Punjab Cabinet Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu
Chandigarh: Punjab cabinet minister Navjot Singh Sidhu Wednesday lashed out at the BJP led Centre over its "failure" to release the requisite funds for revamping Jallianwala Bagh ahead of the centenary of the massacre on April 13 that took place during the British regime.
The tourism and cultural affairs minister of Punjab also impressed upon chief minister Amarinder Singh to write to the Centre and British government seeking the apology of the Prime Minister of Britain for the Jallianwala Bagh incident.
"On April 13, 2019, as we join our nation in paying tribute to the martyrs and observe the 100th anniversary of Jallianwala Bagh massacre. The institutional ignorance and unforgiving silence of the Government of India haunts my mind," Sidhu said in his letter to the CM.
"Jallianwala Bagh is a symbol of national integration and inspires the idea of India but now when the world is watching, the Union Government failed to seize the moment. Thus, it has fallen upon us to rise to the occasion," he added.
"This is the time of retribution and an apology has never been rendered by the British government for the actions of April 13, 1919. 100 years is a time already too late but yet occasional of an apology," he said further.
"I request you (Amarinder Singh) to write to the Indian and British governments seeking an apology from the British Prime Minister for the atrocities. It would go a long way towards bettering people to people contact among our two nations if a strong message of reconciliation is delivered," Sidhu said.
Troops of the British Indian Army, under the command of Colonel Reginald Dyer, had fired on civilians who had gathered at Jallianwala Bagh for a peaceful protest on April 13, 1919 killing scores of people.
The cricketer-turned politician also urged the CM to rename the crawling street leading to the Jallianwala Bagh as 'Shaheedan-Di-Gali' (Martyrs Street).
"Or any other name that your esteemed self may find suitable for this site of great sacrifice. This street is the historical reminder of oppression wherein colonial rulers made Indians crawl. Renaming the street is the minimum we can do in the hollowed memory of the great sacrifice," said Sidhu.
The Punjab minister slammed the Centre for not releasing funds which the state government had demanded for the revamp project of Jallianwala Bagh.
"Even after our repeated attempts the Union government has not woken up from its deep slumber and not given this place its due importance.In-spite of us preparing a detailed project to revamp the Bagh, my letter to the Prime Minister seeking Rs 100 crore, which you (Amarinder Singh) had supported with your own letter was ignored," he said.
"We wanted to have an impressive museum that honours the memory of martyrs and depicts the historical narration of events. Along with voice-over by renowned lyricist Gulzar Sahab. We requested historian Kishwer Desai to help us with the project. We also planned a light and sound programme to share with the visitors, the suffering and sacrifice of martyrs by recreating the horrors of the massacre. The Union Government failed to seize the moment and lost the occasion," Sidhu said.
He further accused the Centre of neither doing anything for the Bagh on its own nor permitting the state government to implement any of the projects planned by the Punjab Heritage and Tourism Promotion Board.
"I had attended a meeting on your behalf with the Home Minister Rajnath Singh and presented the detailed project report of development projects planned by the Government of Punjab," he alleged in the letter.
"The Prime Minister is the Chairperson of the Jallianwala Bagh National Memorial Trust, but the unknown reluctance of the Union Government did not allow us to do anything. The Prime Minister took seven months just to appoint trustees and has not bothered to visit the place even once during his tenure," he added.
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