Jallianwala Bagh closed, martyrs’ kin stage protest

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The Jallianwala Bagh remained shut for visitors on the 102nd anniversary of the massacre on Tuesday.

Holding flowers in their hands, the kin of the martyrs kept waiting outside the historical place and later staged a protest, which was supported by the Punjab State Freedom Fighters Successors’ Organisation.

Every year, government representatives, politicians, martyrs’ kin, freedom fighters and NGOs visit the historical bagh to pay tributes to those who had lost their lives in the massacre this day in 1919.

Avinash Chander Chhabra (97), who had taken part in the Quit India Movement of 1942, was also part of the protest. “The government could have organised a sombre ceremony to pay tributes to the matryrs and allowed their kin, freedom fighters and their successors in limited numbers to visit the historical place. It would have ensured an uninterrupted tradition of paying respects to the martyrs,” he said.

“When people are visiting religious shrines and shopping malls, and leaders are addressing political parties in various parts of the country, why restrictions were imposed on remembering the martyrs?” asked Amarjit Singh Bhatia, a visitor.

He recalled that as a child, he had accompanied his “tayaji” (father’s elder brother) Prem Singh Bhatia when the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi had felicitated him during her visit to Jallianwala in 1972. Prem Singh had survived gunshot wounds during the 1919 massacre.

Sunil Kapoor, general secretary of the Jallianwala Bagh Freedom Fighters’ Association, said the memorial had been lying shut since February 15 last year. On the other hand, police officials said in view of the surge in Covid cases, there was a ban on all public gatherings, including political rallies, in the state, and therefore they could not allow the martyrs’ kin to visit the place.

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