Amarinder lays foundation stone of Jallianwala Bagh Centenary Memorial park

·3-min read

Chandigarh/Amritsar, Jan 25 (PTI) Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Monday laid the foundation stone of the Jallianwala Bagh Centenary Memorial park at Amritsar, dedicated to unsung heroes of the massacre.

He paid an emotional tribute to the unsung heroes of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre and to their families by reciting a poem.

The chief minister virtually laid the foundation of the memorial park.

The Jallianwala Bagh Centenary Memorial Park, to come up over 4490 square metres at Amrit Anand Park in Ranjit Avenue, Amritsar, will stand out as a remembrance for the future generations, Amarinder Singh said.

To be built at a cost of Rs 3.52 crore, the memorial will have soil brought by the kin of martyrs or panchayats/sarpanchs/councillors.

Remembering the martyrs who sacrificed their lives for India's independence, the chief minister slammed those criticising the state government for setting up this memorial, and said every Punjabi has the right to remember the unparalleled tragedy that paved the way for the freedom struggle.

Senior BJP leader and Rajya Sabha MP Shwait Malik had raised concern over erecting a separate memorial and dubbed it as a 'political move' of the state Congress.

Malik had accused the Congress of failing to contribute towards making the original historical site an ideal place.

The Jallianwala Bagh is located nearly 6 km away from where the memorial park for which the foundation stone was laid by the chief minister.

On the occasion, the chief minister announced a Jallianwala Bagh Chair at the Guru Nanak Dev University (GNDU) and a literary festival dedicated to the memory of those who lost their lives in one of the world's biggest humanitarian tragedy, as per an official statement here.

'The sky frequents daily to weep here, The arrows still sting in Punjab's heart,' Amarinder Singh read from literary historian Rakshanda Jalil's poem on the massacre.

Noting that the exact number of deaths in the massacre was still not known, the chief minister asked Tourism and Cultural Affairs Minister Charanjit Singh Channi to ensure that the research into the data is completed so that the exact number can be ascertained and small memorials also can be built in their villages.

The massacre took place at Jallianwala Bagh in Amritsar during the Baisakhi festival in April 1919 when the British Indian Army under the command of Colonel Reginald Dyer opened fire at a crowd staging a pro-independence demonstration, leaving scores dead.

Pointing out that Dyer had cited the figure of 200-300 deaths of the 5,000 people he said had gathered there, Amarinder said, 'Gandhi ji had put the figure at 1500, of which the names of only 492 martyrs were currently available.' He recalled his visit to the Cellular Jail in Andaman and Nicobar Islands, referred to as 'Kala Pani'.

Amarinder Singh said there were many names of Punjabis which nobody is aware of, and directed Channi to also get the information researched and compiled. His government would also build memorials for them in Punjab, he announced.

On the occasion, the tourism and cultural affairs minister honoured 29 family members of 492 Jallianwala Bagh martyrs identified so far by the district administration. PTI SUN SNE