Prime Minister Narendra Modi on August 28 dedicated the renovated monument of Jallianwala Bagh Smarak to the nation through a virtual conference.
Join me as we inaugurate the renovated complex of Jallianwala Bagh Smarak today at 6:25 PM. I also invite you to watch the sound and light show. It would display the horrific massacre of April 1919 and instil a spirit of gratitude and reverence towards the martyrs. pic.twitter.com/p2BDHUbXAJ— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) August 28, 2021
Calling the monument inspirational, PM Modi addressing the event virtually said, “Jallianwala Bagh is the place that gave courage to an innumerable number of revolutionaries like Sardar Udham Singh and Bhagat Singh to sacrifice their lives for the freedom of the nation.”
“It is the duty of a state to preserve its history,” said the PM further encouraging people to learn more about our nation’s history and struggle for independence.
PM Modi who is also the chairperson of the Jallianwala Bagh Memorial Trust, held the inauguration in the presence of other trust members including Union Culture Minister G Kishan Reddy, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh, Governor VP Singh Badnore, and several parliamentarians.
However, did you know that the President of the Indian National Congress was a permanent member of the Jallianwala Bagh Memorial Trust until 2019 when the Modi government brought in an Amendment to change the existing provisions for the maintenance of the Trust?
Jallianwala Bagh National Memorial (Amendment) Bill
The bill to make the Jallianwala Bagh trust apolitical was tabled by the Modi government in its first parliamentary session since the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. This is because the representation was skewed with one party gaining a prominent position in the Trust.
The Jallianwala Bagh National Memorial (Amendment) Bill, 2019 was then passed by the Parliament in November 2019 marking an end to the automatic nomination of the Congress President as President of the Trust.
केंद्रीय संस्कृति मंत्री , श्री @prahladspatel ने आज राज्यसभा में जलियाँवाला बाग राष्ट्रीय स्मारक संशोधन विधेयक को पारित करने हेतु प्रस्तुत किया एवं उस पर अपना वक्तव्य दिया । pic.twitter.com/W4JrmIZG8B— Ministry of Culture (@MinOfCultureGoI) November 19, 2019
“It seeks to make apolitical the trust that runs Jallianwala Bagh National Memorial by removing the clause pertaining to the President of INC as a permanent member of the trust. The Bill also amends to include the Leader of Opposition recognised as such in the House of the People (Lok Sabha) or where there is no such Leader of Opposition, then the Leader of the single largest Opposition Party in that House as a member of the trust,” read the Bill.
Congress opposed the Bill
The bill met with opposition by Congress when it was first introduced in July 2019. Congress MP Shashi Tharoor had alleged that the bill was a “denial of the heritage of the country” and one should not “betray our history and heritage.”
However, despite the hue and cry by Congress, the bill was passed in both houses. Ensuring adequate representation, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh is also a trustee of the Jallianwala Bagh Trust.
After Bill, Congress now opposes renovation
The Jallianwala Bagh Smarak seems to have become a pain point for Congress so much so that the party is unable to digest even the renovation of the smarak.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi has launched a targeted campaign against the ruling government making absurd allegations.
In a Tweet today Rahul claimed that the renovation is an insult to martyrs and that he would not tolerate it at any cost.
जलियाँवाला बाग़ के शहीदों का ऐसा अपमान वही कर सकता है जो शहादत का मतलब नहीं जानता।— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) August 31, 2021
मैं एक शहीद का बेटा हूँ- शहीदों का अपमान किसी क़ीमत पर सहन नहीं करूँगा।
हम इस अभद्र क्रूरता के ख़िलाफ़ हैं। pic.twitter.com/3tWgsqc7Lx
In another Tweet, for which Rahul Gandhi was subjected to brutal trolling, he said, “Those who didn’t struggle for freedom can’t understand those who did.”
Those who didn’t struggle for freedom can’t understand those who did.— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) August 31, 2021
Opposing the laser show installed at the monument, Congress’s Deputy Leader in Lok Sabha Gaurav Gogoi tweeted, “Call me a traditional Indian but I am not a fan of installing disco lights on institutions of importance and dignity. Such pomp reduces the gravity and horror of the Jallianwala Bagh Smarak to base entertainment. Similarly the strobe lights on Parliament are also appalling.”
Call me a traditional Indian but I am not a fan of installing disco lights on institutions of importance and dignity. Such pomp reduces the gravity and horror of the Jallianwala Bagh Smarak to base entertainment. Similarly the strobe lights on Parliament are also appalling. https://t.co/ZesKZtKNKD— Gaurav Gogoi (@GauravGogoiAsm) August 30, 2021
What has changed at the Smarak?
The lights Gogoi complained about have been installed to illuminate the walkway. Additionally, a 28-minute “Sound and Light” show re-enacting the events of April 13, 1919 (Jallianwala Bagh massacre), will be shown free of cost every evening.
Several new sculptures of martyrs representing ordinary Punjabis who had walked into the park that fateful day to never return, have been installed on the high walls of the monument.
Four new galleries using underutilized buildings have been erected to depict the history of Punjab, history of the freedom movement, and the Gadar movement.
The smarak has been restored and renovated equipped with basic facilities such as ticketing counters and drinking water.
However, while the opposition has accused the BJP of ‘erasing history’ with this attempt of restoration and renovation, Punjab CM Captain Amarinder Singh said the monument looks nice to him.
“I don’t know what has been removed. To me it looks very nice,” says Punjab CM Captain Amarinder Singh over the renovation of the Jallianwala Bagh pic.twitter.com/uM3aut0Opo— ANI (@ANI) August 31, 2021
Moreover, the Punjab CM urged the Prime Minister “to use the offices of Government of India to bring back the personal artefacts like the pistol and personal diary of Shaheed Udham Singh, who avenged the injustice of this massacre, from UK to India.”