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Congress, Akalis trade accusations over Jallianwala Bagh centenary event

Punjab local bodies minister Navjot Singh Sidhu and Akali leader Bikram Singh Majithia took potshots at each other in back-to-back press conferences.

chandigarh Updated: Feb 26, 2019 11:08 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
jallianwala bagh massacre centenary event,navjot singh sidhu,bikram singh majithia
Punjab minister Navjot singh Sidhu along with other Congress leaders addressing the media in Chandigarh on Monday,February 25,2019.(Ravi Kumar / HT Photo )

As Punjab gears up to commemorate the centenary of Jallianwala Bagh massacre that took place in April 1919, the Congress and Akalis indulged in no-holds-barred attacks on each other’s families.

Local bodies minister Navjot Singh Sidhu, jails minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa, Congress MLA Kuljit Nagra and Akali leader Bikram Singh Majithia exchanged charges outside the House on Monday after speaker Rana KP Singh did not allow Majithia to ask a supplementary to his call attention motion against Sidhu on the Amritsar train tragedy. Claiming that no permission was sought for the function, Majithia said the victim families are yet to get jobs.

Later, Sidhu and Majithia took potshots at each other in back-to-back press conferences. Sidhu produced accounts of historians claiming that Majithia’s great grandfather, Sundar Singh Majithia, was feted General Dyer after the massacre and the British later bestowed the title of “Sardar Bahadur” on him and gave him the Gorakhpur ‘riyasat’.

“In his book, historian BN Dutta wrote that Sundar Singh praised General Dyer after the tragedy and called it a mischievous attempt to malign his (Dyer’s) image. Writer Khushwant Singh too said in his book that when he went to Sundar Singh to get an autograph, he refused after seeing picture of freedom fighter Bhagat Singh in it and flung the book in the air. Khushwant wrote that he was not able to forgive him for the boorish behaviour and did not respond to friendship gestures of his sons and grandsons,” Sidhu said.

Nagra said since Punjab is observing 100 years of the tragedy and the House has passed a resolution seeking an apology from the UK government, it is only befitting that Majithia too tender an apology on behalf of his great grandfather.

Randhawa said Simranjit Singh Mann of SAD (Amritsar) has tendered an apology on behalf of his grandfather, who too was a British loyalist and gave testimony against Bhagat Singh.

They, however, ducked questions on why was Sundar Singh’s son, Satyajit Majithia, was made a Union minister by the Congress.

Majithia later gave a detailed account of his great grandfather’s accomplishments saying he founded schools and colleges and was the first president of the SGPC, which Randhawa had claimed came as reward for his loyalty to the British.

“He was part of legislative council along with the likes of Sir Chottu Ram,” Majithia said, adding that his family does not need a certificate from a “traitor” like Sidhu who has yet to condemn Pakistan or his “friend” Imran Khan for the Pulwama terror attack. “If he gets personal, I too can question whose wife had to be taken to a hospital...,” he said in reference to Sidhu’s wife.

First Published: Feb 26, 2019 11:07 IST