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Martyr’s 110th birthday anniversary: Eight years and counting, Bhagat Singh museum project hangs fire

Work at the museum project got stalled more than nine months back due to lack of funds.

punjab Updated: Sep 28, 2017 11:50 IST
Jatinder Mahal
Jatinder Mahal
Hindustan Times, SBS Nagar
Bhagat Singh,Khatkar Kalan,Shaheed Bhagat Singh
The new museum at Khatkar Kalan village, the native village of Shaheed Bhagat Singh in SBS Nagar. Officials say construction work on the building is complete, but installation of artworks in the galleries is yet to start.(HT File)

Successive governments in the state do not seem to have evinced much interest in a museum project dedicated to Shaheed Bhagat Singh at his ancestral village Khatkar Kalan in the district, as it has been hanging fire for the last eight years.

When the country pays tributes to the legendary freedom fighter on his 110th birthday anniversary on Thursday, residents of the martyr’s village are not really upbeat claiming apathy of the governments over decades.

Work at the museum project got stalled more than nine months back due to lack of funds. Officials claimed that though construction work on the building has been completed, installation of artworks in the museum galleries is yet to start in the complex. The work on exhibits, lights and sound system is yet to be carried out by the department of tourism and cultural affairs.

It will take more six months to get the work completed, an official said. The delay has already escalated the project cost from ₹8.45 crore to ₹17 crore.

Former Union home minister P Chidambaram had laid the foundation stone of the project on February 23, 2009, in a function attended by the then Union minister for tourism and culture Ambika Soni and then Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal.

Director (tourism) Shivdular Singh Dhillon said the museum would be ready by March 2018 and they have sought additional funds.

As per the project plan, the old museum building was to be dismantled after the construction of the new building. Nearly 85-kanal land was also acquired for expansion of the new museum.

The new structure will house the new museum, photo galleries and an auditorium.

Local resident Hardev Singh said even two years after the central government’s announcement to develop Khatkar Kalan as a model village nothing has been done. Union rural development minister Chaudhary Virender Singh announced this on the martyr’s birth anniversary in 2015.

New air-conditioners, electric gadgets and power generators have been gearing dust, leading to wastage of taxpayers’ money, Hardev said. The open space outside the building has become a garbage dumping ground while the entrance gate has been lying locked.

Besides Bhagat Singh, the museum will also be a memorial to Sukhdev, Rajguru, and 9,000 martyrs from Punjab who sacrificed their lives in the Indian freedom struggle.

The moments of Jallianwala Bagh massacre, the killing of British police officer John Saunders, bombing at the Delhi Central Legislative Assembly on 1929, arrest and execution of Bhagat Singh will be recreated in the museum. An audio facility has also been planned.

Bhagat Singh was born at Banga village of Lyallpur district (now Faisalabad in Pakistan) on September 28, 1907. He was 23 when the British hanged him in 1931 for his involvement in the Lahore conspiracy case, along with Sukhdev Thapar and Shiv Ramhari Rajguru.

Abhay Singh Sandhu, nephew of Bhagat Singh, said, “It is unfortunate that governments have failed to build a memorial in eight years to honour the martyr. The governments remember martyrs on special occasions to seek public attention.


Mini marathon against drugs in Fazilka

Chandigarh: Under the campaign initiated by Punjab government to eradicate drugs, the Punjab Police are organising ‘Daurta Punjab mini marathon on the birth anniversary of Bhagat Singh in Fazilka on Thursday.

A government spokesperson said the marathon will start from the police lines parade ground at 9am and culminate at the Shaheedi Memorial at Asaf Wala. He said more than 3,000 youths have registered for the mini marathon and the number may increase.

First Published: Sep 28, 2017 11:33 IST