Giani Zail Singh, president from 1982 to 1987, was prisoner at the district jail here from 1938 to 1943 for backing the Parja Mandal movement in Punjab under the British rule.
India has attained freedom, the old district jail has moved, and its land has gone to the Baba Farid University of Heath Sciences (BFUHS). Fear is rife that the university, dismantling the prison part by part, will also demolish Gianiji's cell.
Surinder Gupta, district Congress president; Inderjeet Singh Khalsa, chairman of Baba Farid Institutes; and Amar Singh Sukheeja have written to the President for preserving the historical cell as a memorial to Gianiji, who contributed a lot to the region. PS Gill, vice-chancellor of the medical university, has agreed to keep the cell intact. "The news of its imminent demolition," he said, "are plain rumours."
Gianiji the magnanimous
Kotkapura: When in power, politicians accumulate wealth, bully people, and become proud. Gianiji was different.
The former president whose birth anniversary falls on Saturday was a good human being, in the opinion of his grandson, Kultar Singh Sandhwan. "Giani Zail Singh had the respect of even his rivals," said Sandhwan. "Prakash Singh Badal, one of his opponents, even voted him for president."
During the country's freedom struggle, Harider Singh, ruler of Faridkot estate, put Gianiji in prison. Years later, Harider Singh, now erstwhile king, visited Gianiji, who had become chief minister. Gianiji greeted him with affection.