This year is the 100th year of the Jallianwala Bagh tragedy that took place on April 13, 1919. The tragedy that killed many is a scar in the Indian psyche which refuses to heal even after so many years.
Memorial in poor condition
The Jallianwala Bagh, where the tragedy occurred is now a national memorial, and it was commemorated to give tribute to the people who lost their lives in the massacre, however, the picture of today’s Jallianwala Bagh depicts the lack of government interest to save the national memorial that is a symbol of loss and sacrifice for the country.
Recently, a member of the CPI (M), M.B. Rajesh wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi lamenting about the poor condition of the memorial. The CPI (M) member has urged the PM to take steps to release funds to re-start the light-and-sound show at the memorial. ‘Son-et-Lumiere’, the famous 52-minutes sound and light show was held five years back.
In his letter to the Prime Minister, Rajesh wrote, that he had very recently visited the historic site with his family, where he was informed by the staff person that the show stands “abandoned due to a paucity of funds.”
He also took a dig at the Statue of Unity – the world’s tallest statue at 182-meters, built at the cost of Rs 3000 crore. He said, that even in the centenary year of Jallianwala Bagh massacre, the government has failed to release even “Rs 1 for 3000 martyrs.”
Trust is responsible for it
To know more about the reality of the memorial, The Logical Indian spoke to the Amritsar-based advocate and activist P.C. Sharma, who has been collecting information about the memorials for the last many years using RTIs.
He told us that there are several concerns about the mismanagement of the memorial. The activist claims that Jallianwala Bagh National Memorial Trust which is responsible for the memorial’s management has illegally kept the money to themselves that was supposed to be used for the memorial’s keep up. “The trust has not maintained any accounts of the money received and spent. It was only after my complaints that they made false and fake records,” he said.
He also accused the Memorial Trust’s secretary, Sukumar Mukherjee of manipulating the records. “The donation that the trust receives from the well(the well where people jumped to save their lives during the massacre, and now people donate money) also was also forged by them. I have been raising several complaints highlighting these issues but they do not pay any attention to it.”
The memorial that is located close to another tourist destination, the Golden Temple is visited by almost 35,000 people on an average every day.
Talking about the mismanagement at the memorial site he said, “It is in pathetic condition, apart from the light and sound show, the memorial also used to give small booklets to the visitors to read which has been discontinued too, apparently due to lack of funds,” he said. Nobody knows where the fund is going, he adds.
Jallianwala Bagh National Memorial Trust, which is responsible for the memorial’s upkeep, runs under the chairmanship of the Prime Minister, reports The Print.
No fund from the government
The Logical Indian also spoke to the secretary of the Trust, Sukumar Mukherjee, who has denied all the allegations against him.
He said, “We are not getting any funds for its maintenance, even then we are maintaining it. In our visitor’s booklet, we have got good remarks that the memorial is well maintained. Recently, the finance commission officials also came who also appreciated us for the good maintenance.”
When we asked for how many years did the trust did not receive the funds, he said, “the previous government said that 50 lakhs would be given to us for the maintenance, but we have not received 50 paise for it.”
He also told us that several times the trust has raised complaints regarding the lack of funds, but all of these complaints have landed on the deaf hears. He said, “We complained about this to many ministers who have visited the memorial, but there has been no outcome.”
Regarding the sound and light show not being functional, he said that the government and the concerned offices have been notified about it and he further denied commenting on it.
The other story
While speaking to The Tribune, the State Culture Minister, Navjot Singh Sidhu, said that additional funds totalling Rs 20 crore had also been received for setting up a commemorative landscape and museum. He adds that the fund is not being used because the trust has not issued the NOC (no objection certification). “It is pity that we have money, but cannot utilise it as the Centre is reluctant to give nod. The Jallianwala Bagh never belonged to any political party, why should there be a race for credit war,” he said.
Former Rajya Sabha MP Virendra Kataria, who was one of the members of the trust, said under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, not a single meeting of the trust was conducted and not a single penny was granted.
Also Read: The Man Who Took Revenge For Jallianwala Bagh