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Darshan Singh Pheruman died in 1969 while holding a fast-unto-death protest demanding inclusion of Chandigarh and Punjabi-speaking areas into Punjab, something which had failed to happen after the Punjabi Suba came into being. On the 50th anniversary of the new state, his descendents are sore that the celebrations have left him out.
The state government advertisements for the celebrations do carry a picture of Pheruman, who died on the 74th day of his hunger strike.
Just a day before the advertisement was published, Navtej Singh, Pheruman’s 28-year-old great-grandson, could not meet SAD president and Deputy CM Sukhbir Singh Badal to invite him for Pheruman’s 47th death anniversary ceremony, which falls on October 27. He was not allowed to go beyond the barricades installed by police to reach the residence of deputy CM.
Earlier, Navtej Singh had gone to invite CM Parkash Singh Badal, who had announced an annual state-level function to mark death anniversary, in 2014.
“I was told that Punjab Chief minister was not keeping good health and so he would not be able to make it for the death anniversary. So I decided to invite Sukhbir Singh Badal for the same function. But police stopped me,” said Navtej Singh.
Navtej says his family members recount that initially Congress and SAD used to observe his great-grandfather’s death anniversary in his village. “They would hold parallel rallies for it. But slowly they stopped observing it. Now only the family has been observing it on its own,” he says.