- PM Modi on Saturday virtually inaugurated the Jallianwala Bagh memorial complex in Amritsar and said that it is every country’s right to protect its history.
- Rahul Gandhi and the opposition condemned the Central government’s move to revamp the Jallianwala Bagh memorial and try to politicize the issue.
- Amarinder Singh contradicts the Congress, attends virtual inauguration, and has all praises for the new-look Jallianwala Bagh memorial.
On Wednesday, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh praised the Modi government’s renovation work of Jallianwala Bagh, in a sensational twist as this comes hours after former party president Rahul Gandhi slammed the Central government over the move.
जलियाँवाला बाग़ के शहीदों का ऐसा अपमान वही कर सकता है जो शहादत का मतलब नहीं जानता।
मैं एक शहीद का बेटा हूँ- शहीदों का अपमान किसी क़ीमत पर सहन नहीं करूँगा।
हम इस अभद्र क्रूरता के ख़िलाफ़ हैं। pic.twitter.com/3tWgsqc7Lx
— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) August 31, 2021
Earlier in the day, tagging screenshot of a report on social media outrage over the revamp, Rahul had tweeted, “Only a person who does not know the meaning of martyrdom can inflict such an insult on the martyrs of Jallianwala Bagh.” He further added; “Those who didn’t struggle for freedom can’t understand those who did, I am the son of a martyr, I will not tolerate the insult of martyrs at any cost…We are against this indecent cruelty.” However, Amarinder Singh chose to disagree.
Those who didn’t struggle for freedom can’t understand those who did.
— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) August 31, 2021
While former party president Rahul Gandhi condemned the government’s project, Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh backed the renovation. According to reports, Singh said that he doesn’t know what has been removed and added, but it looked nice to him. The renovated look was unveiled by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday.
On Saturday, Singh was present at the launch of the memorial through video-conferencing by the PM, he had said it must serve as a reminder for future generations about the right of people to a peaceful, democratic protest. PM Modi stressed the fact that it is our country’s duty to protect its history, events of the past “teach us and give us direction to move forward”. A wreath-laying ceremony was also held, and a two-minute silence was observed in the memory of those killed in the Jallianwala Bagh massacre as an inaugural event. A sound and light show was also held to depict the events of the day of the massacre.
More than 1,000 people were killed and hundreds wounded on April 13, 1919, when British troops fired indiscriminately on an unarmed gathering of thousands who had assembled in Jallianwala Bagh amid nationwide protests against the Rowlatt Act which had extended wartime repressive measures.
On Monday, as images of the revamped passage to the memorial were circulated on social media, it was followed by outrage regarding the alterations done to it. Several Congress leaders, including the party’s deputy leader in the Lok Sabha, Gaurav Gogoi, and spokesperson Jaiveer Shergill, also tweeted on the issue.
Shergill alleged that the BJP government’s renovation of the passage “is not to preserve but erase the marks of atrocities committed by General Dyer during British rule”. “Call me a traditional Indian but I am not a fan of installing disco lights on institutions of importance and dignity,” Gogoi said.
Call me a traditional Indian but I am not a fan of installing disco lights on institutions of importance and dignity. Such pomp reduces the gravity and horror of the Jallianwala Bagh Smarak to base entertainment. Similarly the strobe lights on Parliament are also appalling. https://t.co/ZesKZtKNKD
— Gaurav Gogoi (@GauravGogoiAsm) August 30, 2021
Shiv Sena leader Priyanka Chaturvedi also said it was damaging “our collective history”.
Slamming back Gandhi, BJP general secretary Tarun Chugh said “The Congress leader should explain as to what his party did for the famous memorial… during its rule. When the memorial is now being expanded and modernised, then the Congress is rattled.”
The apparent disagreement between Rahul and Singh comes amid an ongoing tussle for control of the party in Punjab between Singh and the state unit chief Navjot Singh Sidhu. While Rahul Gandhi just wants to earn some extra brownie points by politicizing the issue, this is not the first time that Amarinder has deviated from the party’s stand on some issue. He had supported the Centre on GST when Congress was opposing it. He had a different stance with Congress on the Kashmir issue. Even this time, Amarinder decided to differ while other party leaders have been rallying around Rahul. Congress insiders, meanwhile, said that the party has been watching Amarinder’s moves closely especially after Navjot Sidhu’s appointment as the PPCC chief.