Punjab’s Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal Thursday visited the National Martyrs Memorial at Hussainiwala in the border district of Ferozepur to pay tribute to martyrs Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev who were cremated here on March 23, 1931.
This was Badal’s first official function after taking charge as minister in the new Congress government.
The minister announced Rs 4-crore grant for the upkeep and beautification of the memorial, along with the border areas. “The state government will also be organising a state-level function to commemorate Baisakhi at Jallianwala Bagh on April 13 this year,” he said. “I am aware of the problem of unemployment in this area. I had promised during my election campaign to bring industry in Punjab. We will open industrial units in border areas of Punjab to generate employment opportunities,” Badal said.
Relatives of Bhagat Singh and Sukhdev, who stay in Punjab, were not present at the function at Hussainiwala. Tribhubhavan Thaper, a relative of Sukhdev, told The Indian Express said, “We got an invitation for Khatkar Kalan function about 10 days back from the CM’s office and hence we planned to go there. Invitation from Hussainiwala came only two days back. Though the CM did not come to Khatkar Kalan, we have given a memorandum to cabinet minister Rana Gurjit Singh who has sought 15 days to get our pending demands met.”
Earlier, Fazilka SSP Ketan Patil came to Hussainiwala leading a bicycle rally 1,400 cyclists from Fazilka to pay tribute to the martyrs. Patil said it was a way of the district administration to inculcate patriotism among masses, besides giving them a message about healthy living. Local MLA Parminder Pinki was also present on the occasion apart from other Congress MLAs of Ferozepur district. Former state BJP chief Kamal Sharma, who belongs to Ferozepur city, also paid homage to martyrs.
Demand of relatives
Relatives of Sukhdev reminded Badal that the promise of Rs 1 crore grant for the upkeep of the martyer’s house in Ludhiana that he made in 2007 as the then finance minister was yet to be met. The minister promised to fulfill the demand.
They also said that the UPA government had sanctioned Rs 81 lakh in 2012, of which only Rs 5 lakh had been spent on the upkeep of Sukhdev’s house and asked Badal to find details about the unspent money lying with the previous state government. Ashok Thaper, a relative of Sukhdev, said, “We will meet Rana Gurjit Singh whom we submitted memorandum after a fortnight again. We have demanded from the government that a chapter be introduced in history books for all national-level martyrs.”