Trustees of the Jallianwala Bagh National Memorial Trust have no information about any plans to observe the 100th anniversary of the massacre, which is less than a month away.
In October 2018, the Centre had appointed three new members to the Trust — former Punjab CM Parkash Singh Badal, former MP and vice-chairperson of the National Commission for Minorities Tarlochan Singh and Punjab BJP chief Shwait Malik — ahead of preparations for the proposed centenary commemoration of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre. The trust is headed by the prime minister.
Trustee Tarlochan Singh told The Indian Express, “So far I have no information how the day will be observed. Elections are the biggest obstacle. Our Union Cultural Minister Mahesh Sharma is busy with elections. His constituency will go for elections in the first phase on April 11. So he is busy there and now the code of conduct has been imposed. We do not know if the prime minister can come for the event or not. Maybe we can try for the president to come.”
He further said, “…Preparations for the anniversary event should have been started around a year back. But we were appointed trustees in October last year and started holding meetings for the same immediately.”
“We had submitted a big plan for renovation of the Bagh before the event. Our plan has been approved but the problem is sanction of funds for these projects are part of the 2019-20 budget and these will be available only after April 1. You cannot start and complete renovation work in 13 days,” said Tarlochan Singh.
“After the code of conduct was imposed, I met the secretary ministry of culture to take a decision on the event. It has been around 12 days since then, but I have yet to get any response. I went to Amritsar to meet Trust secretary Sukumar Mukherjee, but he was also out of station,” he said.
Tarlochan said the Punjab government should also push the Centre to make arrangements for the anniversary. “Yes, it looks awkward that we don’t have any plan with less than a month left for the anniversary…As Punjabi and as a Sikh…I want to make it successful. I have suggested to the government to take help of the Partition Museum in Amritsar as its people already have an exhibition in place related to massacre.”
Meanwhile, Shwait Malik told this newspaper, “So far I have no idea about what function is to be held on April 13. We have submitted a vision document but I have not gotten any response so far…”
Amritsar DC Shivdular Singh Shillong said, “…A formal function will obviously be held. So far, we have no information from the central government but the government will most probably do so after the code of conduct is lifted.”
Trust secretary Sukumar Mukherjee said, “So far I have received no communication from the Centre about the function to be held on April 13. They must be planning something but I have no information. District administration has also not provided any information so far,” he added.