The statue was inaugurated by former chief minister Gopi Chand Bhargav in 1955. Old timers say that the area was earlier a hub of political and social activities. The statue and the adjoining reading room were the result of the efforts of freedom fighter and former municipal committee president Salig Ram Prashar whose niece Sarla Prashar rose to become a legislator and Punjab Congress president.
The reading room attracts some visitors, mostly retired people, but the statue does not. Lately, a room adjoining the reading room has been turned into a night shelter. The municipal corporation has deployed a caretaker on a temporary basis, who looks after the premises for fixed hours.
During night, the property is left at the disposal of night shelter occupants, if any. The dilapidated reading room was renovated a few years ago but the lawn outside is not maintained. The MC had got installed another memorial outside the compound but it is also getting the same treatment. "What is the use of building the memorial if it was not be preserved," questioned Om Parkash Sood, a local resident and social worker.
"By erecting toilets near the statue, the authorities have added salt to the injury, " he added. Socialist leader Balwant Singh Khera revealed that a memorandum has been submitted to the administration seeking due respect for the national hero. Former MC president Shiv Sood, however, claimed that during his tenure, municipal officials did visit the memorial on special occasions. As for the toilets, he said these were constructed on public demand. "The toilets stand at a distance from the statue so it is not right to say that the MC has done a sacrilegious act", he added.