Jallianwala Bagh, the historical place that played a pivotal role in giving a fillip to India’s freedom struggle after the British forces fired indiscriminately on Indians on April 13, 1919, is today a perfect example of history being neglected.
As much is said and talked about this historical site, a close look clearly shows the gross injustice being done to the place, which once inculcated a sense of patriotism in the visitors.
The historical site was in the news recently when Rajya Sabha MP Shwait Malik had raised the issue of its neglect in the Parliament and had also sought a probe into the allocation and utilisation of its funds. Malik had also alleged nepotism and negligence in the working of Jallianwala Bagh National Memorial Trust.
A visit to the historical site leaves one disappointed. The light and sound show started by the government as a tribute to the martyrs of the 1919 massacre is lying defunct. Moreover, there is lack of sanitation and heaps of garbage can be seen lying at different spots. Even the 18-minute documentary, which was shown seven times a day in a 50-seat hall at the venue, has been discontinued. The technical snags in running the show have taken years to correct.
The wall with bullet marks is not being maintained either. The well, where many jumped to save their lives on that fateful day, lies in an unkempt state.
With this, it seems that not only the British, the present authorities too are giving the Jallianwala Bagh a step motherly treatment.
The site is now no more than a park and the weight of its historical significance seems to be ebbing away. Tourists often step on the martyrs’ tombs with their shoes and are seen clicking selfies. Like any other typical Indian historical site, the tomb also has names and love messages inscribed on it.
The question arises that how will a foreigner respect Indian martyrs when they see their native countrymen shaming and disrespecting their sacrifices.
Harish Kumar, 28, a Bihar resident, said, “In the absence of any resources to help me get acquainted with the history of the place, I had to depend on the meagre knowledge of one of my relatives accompanying me. Some guards and guides should be deputed here.”
According to Nitin Sharma, 30, a resident of Meerut, “I was wondering if I wouldn’t have read about the Jallianwala Bagh before visiting the place, I would not have been able to make head and tail of its history by just looking at the place. It seems to be a mere picnic spot.”
MALIK SEEKS ACCOUNT OF Rs 11 CRORE FUND
Lack of accountability and clarity over how funds are to be used is the biggest reason behind this, Rajya Sabha MP Shwait Malik said while speaking to HT.
“I have already taken up the matter with the Centre and spoken to minister of culture Mahesh Sharma. Like any other trust in the country, even for Jallianwala Bagh National Memorial Trust, the chairman is the Prime Minister but majority trustees are Congress MPs. They have neither taken the responsibility to visit the site and nor have put in an effort to make sure that defunct facilities are restarted as the Bagh is today failing to tell the history to the visitors,” he added.
Talking about the funds allocated by the Congress government back then he said, “A fund of ₹11 crore was allocated for the restoration, revamping and facilities at the Jallainwala Bagh but unfortunately, everything is defunct there. Where is the money used? Record of the accounts is missing too. Even secretary of National trust does not have it. I have sought a probe into the utilidation of this fund.”
TRUST SECRETARY STAYS MUM
SK Mukherjee, the secretary of the Jallianwala Bagh National Memorial Trust, who is usually absent from duty at his office, said due to ill health, the doctor has advised him to not speak much and that his health was does not permit him to give any details about the fund accounts and trust working as of now.
DISTRICT ADMN HAS NO ROLE IN THIS TRUST: DC
Talking on the issue, new Amritsar DC Kamaldeep Singh Sangha said, “I have made a few oral enquiries and have been told that the district administration does not have much role to play as the trust is chaired by the PM and trustees are the MPs. I will dig up the file on my own level and will write to the Centre about the state of the Jallianwala Bagh.”