WHILE OBSERVING 120 years of the historic Saragarhi battle on Tuesday, Punjab Cabinet ministers Manpreet Badal and Navjot Singh Sidhu announced that battle would soon be part of school text books of the Punjab State Education Board (PSEB). On September 12, 1897, 21 soldiers of the 36th Sikh had had fought to the last man against nearly 10,000 Afghans. So far, this tale of bravery had not been included in school history books in India, while Britain had already included it in their school curriculum.
Both ministers made the announcement to change that as they presided over a state-level function at the Saragarhi gurdwara in Ferozepur on Tuesday morning. About funds for museum, auditorium and a library in memory of 21 Sikhs who were martyred, Manpreet said that there was no dearth of funds for such a cause. Congress MLA Parminder Pinki had raised a demand for making a museum and memorial hall in the memory of the martyrs.
Local Bodies Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu, who also holds the portfolio of cultural department, said,”A blank cheque for such a project will be given to the area MLA and we will get the funds passed from the Cabinet so as to make the memorial a memorable one.” He said that martyrdom of 21 Sikhs is inspirational and hence school students need to know about this history.
On the occasion, copies of books written by CM Amarinder Singh — ‘Saragarhi and the defence of the Samana Forts’ – were presented to the 14 members of the British contingent and other dignitaries.
Unlike previous years when SAD-BJP was in power, this year SAD and BJP leaders were missing from the programme at the gurdwara. Few SAD leaders attended a separate event organised by SGPC at Bazidpur village at historical Gurdwara Jamni Sahib.
Former SAD minister Bibi Jagir Kaur, SGPC President Kirpal Singh Badungar were present in this programme, where Badungar said that already SGPC had unveiled a special gallery in memory of Saragarhi martyrs in Amritsar. Harpreet Singh, Jathedar Takht Damdama Sahib was also present.
Earlier during the SAD-BJP regime, there used to be one programme at Saragarhi gurdwara in Ferozepur city. Interestingly, the Sargarhi gurdwara was earlier being managed by Nanaksar Samparday, but the Congress government gave it back to Saragarhi Memorial Trust. The gurdwara was built in 1924 by the British in memory of Sikh martyrs.
Meanwhile, at the state function at Saragarhi gurdwara on Tuesday, 12 descendents of Saragarhi battle martyrs, who still reside in Punjab, were honoured. Congress Minister Sadhu Singh Dharamsot, Congress MLAs and leaders from different cities attended the event, which was jointly organised by state government and 11 Sikh regiment.