Sidhu wants ‘crawling street’ to be renamed - Mandi Gobindgarh News

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Thursday, April 11, 2019

Sidhu wants ‘crawling street’ to be renamed


Sidhu wants ‘crawling street’ to be renamed

GS Paul

Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 10

Dejected over the Central government’s alleged pessimistic attitude towards Jallianwala Bagh development projects conceptualised by his department, the Punjab Tourism Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu has asked Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh to initiate at least those works that comes under the state government’s jurisdiction.

Through a letter addressed to the Chief Minister, Sidhu prominently raised two issues — renaming the infamous ‘crawling street’ leading to the Jallianwala Bagh and approach the Union government to initiate the reconciliation process of asking the British government to submit an apology for the most heinous act of killing innocent Indians by its predecessors in 1919.

Approximately 185-metre stretch leading to the Jallianwala Bagh, still known as ‘Khu Kaurian’ was the actual ‘crawling street’ and is testament to the colonial era atrocities.

Today, it’s a little known fact that on April 10, 1919, a European missionary woman, Marcella Sherwood, who ran the Mission Day School for Girls then, was assaulted by a mob while she was cycling through this narrow passage. Following the incident, the British rulers ordered every Indian passerby to crawl pass the street and they were beaten up with baton by tying them near the well.

With the passage of time the original residents, mostly belonging to the Duggal community, migrated. The “khu” (well) was replaced with a “Shivala” (Shiv temple) in 1980s. Some residents, who were aware of their locality’s history, demanded that a memorial be erected to keep the black chapter alive.

Sidhu suggested that the street should be re-christened as “Freedom Street or “Shaheedan Di Gali”.

“I don’t insist on sticking to these names. It could be any other name the CM Saheb may find suitable, but this street is the historical reminder of oppression where English rulers made Indians crawl. Renaming the street is the minimum we can do,” he said.

Similarly, an “apology” was never tendered by the British government for its barbaric actions on Indians. “The 100th year is the time already too late, yet it could be an occasion for tendering an official apology,” he said.

To revamp the dilapidated infrastructure at the Jallianwala Bagh, Sidhu claimed to have submitted numerous proposals to the Centre. For reviving the Jallianwala Bagh’s light and sound show project, he had got sanctioned Rs 8 crore under the Union Ministry of Tourism’s Swadesh Darshan Scheme, but these funds could not be utilised for want of official nod from the Jallianwala Bagh National Memorial Trust, headed by the Prime Minister. “We engaged renowned lyricist Gulzar saheb for a voice-over for light and sound show and historian Kishwer Desai was ready to help us with the project, but it could not be materialised. The Jallianwala Bagh never belonged to any political party, why should there be credit war,” he said.

Another Rs 20 crore under the Pilgrimage Rejuvenation and Spiritual Augmentation Drive (PRASAD), too, could not be utilised for setting up a commemorative landscape and museum to suit the sanctity of the place, as the trust did not issue the NOC (no objection certification). “It is pity that we have money, but cannot utilise it as the Centre was reluctant to give nod. I attended meetings on behalf of the state government with Home Minister Rajnath Singh apprising him of the state government’s vision on development of the Jallianwala Bagh, but in vain,” he said.

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