When the Pakistan government is preserving the memory of Shaheed Bhagat Singh by renovating not only the house where he was born but also his entire village for huge money, the Punjab government has betrayed a martyr who went to the gallows with him in the freedom struggle.
The state government is all ready to abandon renovating the Ludhiana house of martyr Sukhdev, a work it took up with great hype two months ago. Of the three levels, it has decided to now restore only the ground floor.
The state department of cultural affairs, museums, archives and archaeology received Rs 3.24 crore for the restoration and conservation of the homes of the freedom movement martyrs. The government decided to spend equally on Sukhdev’s house in Ludhiana, Lala Lajpat Rai’s at Dudhike village in Moga district, Kartar Singh Sarabha’s at Sarabha village in Ludhiana district, and Udham Singh’s at Sunam in Sangrur district.
While it will do full restoration and conservation of the other three houses and has come out with even detailed project reports, martyr Sukhdev’s house at Ludhiana’s Mohalla Naughara will be the only one to get partial justice. The reason given for partial restoration is that a family occupies the two upper floors, which are crumbling and can collapse anytime. Department director Navjot Pal Singh Randhawa confirmed the plan. “We have the possession of only the ground floor, so that’s what we’ll restore,” he said.
House owner Manisha Sharma, a widow from Jalandhar, said her in-laws had bought the house from Sukhdev’s family six decades ago. “The government never approached me to buy the house. I am even ready to sell it for a reasonable price,” she said. Legal experts said even if the owner was unwilling to sell the house, the government had full powers to acquire it for a monument of national importance.
Vishal Nayyar, maternal grandson of Sukhdev’s younger brother, Parkash Chand Thapar, who runs Amar Shaheed Sukhdev Welfare Society, has demanded the house be restored as it was. Of Rs 81 lakh sanctioned for it, the government has spent only Rs 15 lakh so far. The money left is enough to buy the remaining two floors. Sukhdev Thapar, known commonly by his first name, was executed with Bhagat Singh and Rajguru on March 23, 1931, by the-then British colonial government.
Lessons from the neighbour
In February, Pakistan announced to preserve the birthplace of Shaheed Bhagat Singh at Chak 105, GB (now Bangay village), as a heritage site.
The plan is to develop the entire village as part of a wider campaign of preserving the region’s history and restoring 45 historical buildings in particular.
Faisalabad district coordination officer (DCO) Noorul Amin Mengal even visited the house and the district administration constituted Lyallpur Heritage Foundation to do research and preservation.