‘Martyrs’ insult’: Rahul Gandhi, Sitaram Yechury slam govt’s Jallianwala Bagh memorial revamp

Opposition leaders including Rahul Gandhi and Sitaram Yechury on Tuesday termed the government’s revamp of the Jallianwala Bagh memorial an “insult to martyrs”, saying only a person who does not know the meaning of martyrdom can inflict such an insult.

The renovation of Jallianwala Bagh, where more than 1,000 people died 102 years ago, has come under fire, with historians accusing the planners of ‘Disneyfying’ the monument. Most of the criticism is for retouching the narrow alley leading to the Bagh. The narrow lane — which was blocked by British soldiers making it impossible for anyone to escape from the Bagh on that horrific day — now has a shiny new floor. Besides this, it has been partially covered to keep the birds from sitting on the sculptures.

Tagging a report on the social media outrage over the revamp of the memorial, Gandhi tweeted, “Only those who do not know the meaning of martyrdom can inflict such an insult on the martyrs of Jallianwala Bagh.” “I am the son of a martyr – I will not tolerate the insult of martyrs at any cost,” he said in a tweet in Hindi. “We are against this indecent cruelty.”

People view the bullet holes in the wall, marked with white paint, at Jallianwala Bagh. (Express Photo: Rana Simranjit Singh)

CPM leader Sitaram Yechury also slammed the Centre saying: “Only those who stayed away from the epic freedom struggle can scandalise thus.” “Insulting our martyrs. Jallianwala Bagh massacre of Hindus Muslims Sikhs who gathered together for Baisakhi galvanised our freedom struggle. Every brick here permeated the horror of British rule. Only those who stayed away from the epic freedom struggle can scandalise thus,” Yechury tweeted.

Shiv Sena leader Priyanka Chaturvedi said the revamp was doing “great damage to our collective history”. “The pain was real, the loss was immense, the tragedy was unforgettable. Sometimes the places evoke pain&serve as a reminder to what we lost&what we fought for. Trying to ‘beautify’ or ‘modify’ those memories is doing great damage to our collective history,” she tweeted.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had opened the renovated complex on Saturday, saying it is the country’s duty to protect its history. As part of the inaugural event, a wreath-laying ceremony was also held and two-minute silence was observed in the memory of those killed in the Jallianwala Bagh massacre. A sound and light show was held to depict the events of the day of the massacre.

Over 1,000 people were killed and hundreds wounded on April 13, 1919 when British troops fired indiscriminately on an unarmed gathering of thousands who had assembled in Jallianwala Bagh amid nationwide protests against the Rowlatt Act which had extended wartime repressive measures

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