Not granting ‘protected monument’ status by the Punjab government to the hideout of martyr Bhagat Singh located in Ferozepur City has irked the local residents and historians alike.
It must be mentioned that about a year ago, department of cultural affairs and museums, Punjab, through a notification, had invited objections to grant heritage status to the historic two-storey building located at local ‘Turi Bazaar’. Thereafter, the matter is still lying in limbo.
“The building was used by Bhagat Singh and his friends as secret headquarters from August 10, 1928 to Feb 4, 1929, where Bhagat Singh, Chander Sekhar Azad, Sukhdev, Shiv Verma, Vijay Kumar Sinha, Mahavir Singh and other freedom fighters paid regular visits,” informed some city-based historians, who have also submitted relevant documents in this regard to the district administration.
“The ground floor and first floor of the said building was taken on rent from Lekh Raj by “krantikari” Dr Gaya Prasad on fake name of Dr BS Nigam. They opened Nigam pharmacy on the ground floor, while used the first floor as residence. Presently, this building is under Shri Krishna Bhagati Satsang Trust from 1968 as per revenue record,” said Harmit Vidhyarthi, a historian and president of Kalapeeth, an NGO working for the promotion of art and culture in the city.
“Bhagat Singh got his hair trimmed here to change his appearance,” he added.
The local residents had been demanding a “protected monument” status for the building and had even protested to press for their demand a year ago.
Meanwhile, Chandigarh-based lawyer HC Arora had filed a writ petition in the Punjab and Haryana high court for issuing directions to the government to declare the building from where the ‘Krantikari Party” operated as a protected monument.
The state authorities in a response to the writ petition in HC court claimed to have initiated the required measures to notify it as a protected monument. However, even after more than a year, nothing has come on the ground.
The high court, thereafter, issued notice to the state government on a contempt petition filed by advocate HC Arora, alleging non-compliance of orders of declaring Shaheed Bhagat Singh’s hideout as a protected monument and the next hearing of matter has been fixed for February 26.
“It’s very sad that on one part the SAD-BJP government has no dearth of funds to build up new memorials, but such an important structure has been being ignored,” said Rakesh Kumar, an author of various books on the life and times of martyr Bhagat Singh and others.
“In a reply to an RTI, the state government informed that none objected to the notification issued a year ago, while as per the rules, two months after the notification, the building should have been granted heritage status,” he stated.
“When none has objected to the move of state government over above the matter, then the delay in the matter in an issue of concern,” added Kumar.