Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh on Monday virtually laid the foundation stone of the Jallianwala Bagh Centenary Memorial Park in Amritsar, with an emotional tribute to the unsung heroes and to their families from a poem recalling how “After years still, (we are) carrying the pain of martyrs”.
Remembering the martyrs who sacrificed their lives for India’s independence, the Chief Minister slammed those criticising the state government for setting up their own memorial, saying every Punjabi has the right to remember the unparalleled tragedy that paved the way for the freedom struggle.
The Jallianwala Bagh Centenary Memorial Park, to come up over 4,490 square metres at Amrit Anand Park in Ranjit Avenue, Amritsar, will stand out as a remembrance for the future generations.
Terming the centenary celebration a happy occasion, he said he would also participate in the national-level celebration of the historic event at the Jallianwala Bagh.
On the occasion, the Chief Minister announced a Jallianwala Bagh Chair at Guru Nanak Dev University here and a literary festival dedicated to the memory of those who lost their lives in one of the world’s biggest humanitarian tragedies.
“The sky frequents daily to weep here, the arrows still sting in Punjab’s heart..” he read from Rukshanda Jaleel’s poem on the massacre.
Noting that the exact number of deaths in the massacre was still not known, the Chief Minister asked Tourism and Cultural Affairs Minister Charanjit Singh Channi to ensure that the research into the data is completed so that the exact number could be ascertained and small memorials built in their villages.
Pointing out that General Dyer had cited the figure of 200-300 deaths of the 5,000 people he said had gathered there, Amarinder said Gandhiji had put the figure at 1,500, of which the names of only 492 martyrs were currently available.
He recalled his visit to the Cellular Jail at Kala Pani, where there were many names of Punjabis which nobody is aware of, and directed Channi to get the information researched and compiled.
His government would also build memorials for them in Punjab, he announced.
To be built at a cost of Rs 3.52 crore, the sacred memorial will have soil brought by kin of martyrs or panchayats, sarpanches and councillors.
The unique memorial has been conceived and designed as five marble fins going up to the sky. The memorial is expected to be completed and dedicated to the people on this Independence Day.