A Congress MP from Punjab Friday wrote a letter to Union Home Minister Amit Shah protesting against the removal of Mahatma Gandhi’s portrait from the visitor’s gallery at the Joint Check Post (JCP) on the India-Pakistan border at Attari, and demanded its immediate restoration.
Khadoor Sahib MP Jasbir Singh Dimpa wrote letter after The Indian Express revealed that the portrait on the ‘Swarn Jayanti Dwar’ (Golden Jubilee Gate) that had been removed when the construction for the new visitor’s gallery was taking place has not been put up even a year after the new gallery was inaugurated by then Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh in January 2019.
In his letter, a copy of which has been marked to Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh, and Director General of Border Security Force (BSF), the MP said that it was insensitive to have removed the portrait without replacing it with a better one.
“There is a lot of resentment brewing among the locals, which may get the government and BSF in an ugly situation,” said Dimpa. He added that the contribution of the Father of the Nation is etched in the minds of the people. “The check post has been revamped recently and when the portrait was taken off, I had pointed it out even then but I was told that it will be placed again very shortly. I do not foresee this happening without your express intervention,” he said in the letter.
State Congress chief Sunil Jakhar too reacted strongly to the omission and said that considering the way BJP has been making “sorry attempts’ to re-write history one cannot accept that there is an innocent delay in placing the portrait again” at its rightful place.
“One can very well understand that this is a party with no history as such and there is a inferiority complex, which prompts them to do things like this. These freedom fighters and men of high standing during freedom struggle are not of Congress. They are national icons. An example close at hand is their attempt to equate Shaheed Bhagat Singh with Dr Mangal Sen of BJP when it comes to naming the international airport at Mohali. This itself shows how much they can stoop down to denigrate the sacrifice of the martyrs,” Jakhar said.
The PPCC president added that the history, which the BJP is trying to distort has not been written by any think-tank but by the blood of the martyrs, which they were trying to bring down. “If they try to change it they should remain beware that the young generation of today is not going to tolerate it. It is very heartening to see that young India getting up to challenge the fascist tendencies of this present regime,” he said.
Leader of Opposition, Harpal Singh Cheema also demanded that Mahatma Gandhi’s portrait should be restored at the Attari border. He said there seemed to be calculated move to do away certain symbols of democracy and freedom through such actions.
“The concept of secularism is being hit by the BJP government at the Centre in all possible ways whether by renaming towns and cities or by doing away with the portrait of the Father of the Nation. They are destroying all institutions. This is very dangerous and this shows their fascist tendencies. This is a signal of danger for future generations. India has many languages, could and creeds. We will destroy our brotherhood by such measures,” Cheema said.
The BSF had earlier said a bigger portrait of the Mahatma will be put up in the visitors’ gallery, and a photo will also be displayed in the upcoming museum along with other national heroes.
Earlier, Gandhi’s portrait was prominently displayed on the Indian side of the border facing Pakistan, while the Pakistani side has the photograph of Mohammad Ali Jinnah on display.
In the new visitors’ gallery, which has enhanced seating arrangements, the Swarn Jayanti Dwar no longer has the Father of the Nation’s image. The Pakistani side continues to display Jinnah’s photograph.
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