In 2015, when the family of martyr Sarwan Dass and people of his village Kittna in Hoshiarpur district came to know that the Police Commemoration Day across the country is observed in the memory of 10 CRPF personnel, including Dass, they demanded from the Punjab government to rename the Government Middle School, Kittna, after the martyr and also install his statue in the school.
The Punjab government, however, is yet to do so.
The Police Commemoration Day is observed on October 21 in memory of 10 CRPF Personnel who were martyred on that day in 1959 at Hot Springs in Ladakh at the hands of Chinese Army.
The family and the villagers came to know that Dass, who was constable No. 3028 in CRPF 3rd Battalion, was among the martyrs only in 2015 when CRPF officials visited the village to collect some information about the family of martyr. CRPF ASI Gurcharan Singh confirmed Dass was among those 10 martyrs in whose memory Police Commemoration Day is observed on October 21.
Amarjit Singh, the son of Sarwan Dass’s younger brother Pargan Dass, told The Indian Express: “We were aware that my uncle, Sarwan Dass, was a martyr but had no idea that he was among those CRPF soldiers to whom this day is dedicated.
Amarjit Singh said Dass was in his in his early 20s when he was martyred. His wife, Naseeb Kaur, who is Amarjit’s mother now, was married to his younger brother Pargan Dass, father of Amarjit. His parents do not keep well and have been living in the US for the past several decades.
“We are also making a memorial at the place where my uncle was born in the village where the statutes of all 10 soldiers would be installed,” said Amarjit.
Sarpanch of the village, Ranbir Singh, said the gram panchayat, Kittna passed a resolution, dated 15.9.2015, for renaming the Government Middle School, Kittna, after Dass and for upgradation of the school to High School. Dass had studied in the same school.
Parvinder Singh Kittna, a resident of the same village who had sent a legal notice to Punjab government to rename the school of village, said the Punjab government had framed a policy some time ago for re-naming government schools after the names of martyrs but nothing has moved yet. Other villagers, including Pritam Chand, 85, and Lehmbar Singh, 80, who had seen Sarwan Dass, remembered him as a jovial and strong man. “He had worked to dig land for making the Bist-Doab canal, which was under construction in their area in 1950s,” said Pritam Singh, a childhood friend of Dass.
When asked about the delay in re-naming the school, District Edication Officer (Secondary), Hoshiarpur, Mohan Singh said they sent the case to the department and it is under process.
On Friday, DIG CRPF Darshan Lal Gola will visit the school to mark Police Commemoration Day, said Amarjit.
Why is the day observed?
On October 21, 1959, CRPF DSP Karam Singh and 20 soldiers were attacked by the Chinese Army at Hot Springs in Ladhakh resulting in 10 casualties. The survivors were imprisoned. Since then, October 21 is observed as Police Commemoration day nationwide. A memorial was also made at Hot Springs in 1961.This was the first major incident involving police forcesday. Those were killed in that attack included Sarwan Dass from Punjab and Shivnath Prasad, Dharam Singh, Purna Singh, Narbu Lamba, Begraz Mal, Makhan Lal, Eman Singh, Teshrng okhu Narbu and Hangjeet Subba from other states.
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