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Monday, Sep 23, 2019

As Jallianwala massacre centenary nears, facelift nowhere in sight

During his visit to Jallianwala Bagh in May 2017, Union culture and tourism minister Mahesh Sharma had announced a digital and virtual museum to disseminate the history of the garden.

chandigarh Updated: Feb 24, 2019 23:19 IST
Anil Sharma, Mandeep Kaur Narula
Anil Sharma, Mandeep Kaur Narula
Hindustan Times, Amritsar

It has been around two years since the Centre had announced to give a facelift to Jallianwala Bagh in Amritsar and improve basic amenities for the tourists, but nothing has been done so far. The centenary of the massacre falls on April 13.

During his visit to Jallianwala Bagh in May 2017, Union culture and tourism minister Mahesh Sharma had announced a digital and virtual museum to disseminate the history of the garden.

“The condition of interpretation centre will also be improved, along with basic facilities such as washrooms and drinking water. The work will be completed till April 13, 2019,” the minister had said.

It was also in the plan to refurbish the martyrs’ well so that tourists can have its better view. It was in the proposal to set up a dome-shaped unbreakable glass or a transparent fibre canopy over its outer area above the well. The grille mesh-covered well, in which people had jumped to escape bullets, is currently in a poor state. As per the records, 120 bodies were recovered from the well.

Besides the well, three fountains — one at the entrance and two adjoining the memorial of the martyrs — are lying defunct for long. Also, the pool perambulating the memorial has not seen a drop of water for years.

The light-and-sound show depicting the massacre that was introduced in 2010 has not been held since 2014. On April 14, 2010, then Union defence minister AK Antony dedicated the 52-minute light-and-sound show to the public.

“The screening of an 18-minute documentary in the theatre hall doesn’t take place anymore,” said Ram Prasad, a guard at Jallianwala Bagh.

The authorities concerned have also turned a blind eye towards the garden’s cleanliness as piles of garbage can be seen here and there. “It is memorial of martyrs and the authorities should take care about its cleanliness. Even the condition of washrooms is very poor,” said Sukhdeep Singh, a tourist from Mumbai.

Rajya Sabha MP Shwait Malik, who is also a member of the Jallianwala Bagh National Memorial Trust, passed the bucks on the Congress for the delay in the revamp work. He said, “Earlier, the garden’s trust was headed by Congress leaders. Now, the new trust has been formed. Within the last two months, I have conducted two meetings with home minister Rajnath Singh and a meeting with Mahesh Sharma for starting the facelift.”

He said the blueprint for the garden’s facelift has been prepared and tender floated. “All the works to give the memorial a facelift will be started before the centenary of Jallianwala Bagh massacre,” he claimed.

Earlier in January, Malik had said talks with top officers of the Border Security Force (BSF) were underway to start Attari border like Retreat parade in the garden.

Meanwhile, Amritsar deputy commissioner Shiv Dular Singh Dhillon said they were conducting meetings with different stockholders to identify a suitable land in Amritsar where a memorial of Jallianwala Bagh massacre can be built.

Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh had announced on Thursday that memorial will be built with soil from 13,000 villages of the state.

First Published: Feb 24, 2019 23:12 IST