For A few years after terrorist bullets felled him in 2001,Lt Manpreet Singh Goldy was hailed as a hero in his native Jagraon a rural town in Ludhiana district. Shopkeepers garlanded the martyrs photograph for a couple of years and promises were made to perpetuate his memory with then MLA,the Akali Dals Bhag Singh Mallah,announcing that a road and a school would be named after Goldy.
Slowly,however,memories of his sacrifice the 23-year-old was killed during Operation Rakshak to flush out militants in Kashmirs Mahur Tehsil began to recede as the familiar apathy set in.
The road leading to Goldys house in Jagraon from the towns main chowk was named after him but the administration displayed its lack of awareness by describing him as a Kargil martyr on the board proclaiming the road as Lt M S Goldy Marg.
We told the administration that he died in Operation Rakshak in 2001 and not in the Kargil war but they have never rectified it on the board. Now since Goldys parents have left Jagraon,I come here and clean once in a while, said Manmohan Singh,the martyrs paternal uncle.
As for efforts to name the Government Senior Secondary School (Boys) after him,they have been reduced to mere tokenism. They initially painted his name on the schools board but now even that is not visible. I got it painted 2 to 3 times but when the administration did not take any interest,I too gave up. Officially,the school still functions with its old name, said Goldys father,Karamjit Singh,a former Indian Air Force (IAF) personnel.
To add insult to injury,the family says it has stopped receiving invitations to Independence Day functions for the past 3-4 years. Earlier they at least used to invite us; it was only a formality as no one there cared or paid any heed but now even the invitations have stopped coming, said Karamjit Singh.
Goldys parents shifted to Ludhiana after his death. The young lieutenant died after bullets pierced his stomach. Bad weather hampered efforts to air-lift him to a hospital from the border region of Murah in J&K leaving the young man to bleed to his death.
12 years since that fateful day,Lt Manpreet Singh Goldy is now on the verge of being consigned to historys dustbin as Punjabs development plans are threatening to swallow the last official remnant of his sacrifice – road expansion work is set to bury the only board proclaiming Lt M S Goldy Marg.
The administration is,however,making all the right noises after this was brought to its notice. Our first priority should be to respect our martyrs who laid their lives for us and I was not aware of this school naming announcement. It was the duty of the ex-MLA to complete the procedure but now I will make sure it is done at the earliest. I have already told the officials to make sure that board is re-installed and that too in a better way once construction is complete, said the current Jagraon MLA,the SADs S R Kaler.