Updated: August 28, 2021 8:26:51 pm
Dedicating the renovated Jallianwala Bagh complex in Amritsar to the nation, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday said that the memorial will inspire people to learn more about our history and the country’s journey to Independence.
“Jallianwala Bagh is the place that gave courage to an innumerable number of revolutionaries like Sardar Udham Singh and Bhagat Singh to sacrifice their lives for the freedom of the nation. This memorial will inspire people to know more about our journey to Independence, and the sacrifices of all the freedom fighters,” Modi said while addressing the event virtually.
“It is the duty of a state to preserve its history. When we think of Jallianwala Bagh, we are reminded of the similar horrors that we witnessed during Partition. The pain of what had happened back then is felt even today, across the country and especially in Punjab. We have decided to observe August 14 as Vibhajan Vivisikha Smriti Diwas (Partition Horrors Remembrance Day) to remember the pain and sufferings faced by the people of India back then.”
The site was first opened by then President Dr Rajendra Prasad on April 13, 1961, as a grateful nation’s tribute to the victims of the massacre on April 13, 1919, when a large crowd had gathered at the Bagh to protest the arrest of nationalist leaders Saifuddin Kitchlu and Satya Pal. In response to the massive gathering, British officer Col. Reginald Edward Harry Dyer ordered his troops to fire indiscriminately into the crowd, killing over 1000 people and wounding hundreds of them.
Modi, who is also the chairperson of the Jallianwala Bagh Memorial Trust, dedicated the memorial to the public in the presence of other trust members including Union Culture Minister G Kishan Reddy, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh, Governor V P Singh Badnore, and several parliamentarians from the region.
Modi further said, “Our tribal community played a major role in the freedom struggle but their sacrifices didn’t find mention in history books to the extent they deserve. Work is in progress on museums to showcase the struggle of Aadiwasi freedom fighters in nine states of the country.”
He added, “Like Jallianwala Bagh, renovation work of other memorials related to our freedom struggle. Dedicated to Chandra Shekhar Azad, India’s first interactive gallery is being constructed in UP’s Allahabad.”
Speaking on the occasion, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh said, “The Jallianwala Bagh Memorial must serve as a reminder for future generations about the right of the people to hold peaceful, democratic protests.”
He added, “I request the PM to use the offices of Government of India to bring back the personal artefacts like the pistol and personal diary of Shaheed Udham Singh, who avenged the injustice of this massacre, from UK to India. I have already written to EAM S Jaishankar in this regard.”
In 2019, approximately Rs 20 crore was earmarked by the Centre for the commemoration of 100 years of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre. Restoration and conservation work, and the building of facilities such as toilets, ticketing counters, and drinking water, were undertaken by the Ministry of Culture. The memorial has been shut for the public since February 2019 for the makeover, implemented by the government-owned NBCC Ltd.
A sound and light show, that re-enacts the events of April 13, 1919, was also held on the occasion.
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