Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh (File photo)
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on May 14 announced the creation of a new district of Malerkotla, carving the state’s only Muslim-majority town from Sangrur district. Adjoining Amargarh and Ahmedgarh will also form part of Punjab’s 23rd district, according to the announcement at a state-level event on Eid-ul-Fitr.
Malerkotla, which is 35 km from the Sangrur district headquarters, a district status was a pre-poll promise by Congress.
The chief minister also announced a Rs 500-crore medical college, a women’s college, a new bus stand and a women police station in Malerkotla. "I know this has been a long-pending demand," he said through video conference.
In a tweet later, he said, "Happy to share that on the auspicious occasion of Eid-ul-Fitr, my govt has announced Malerkotla as the newest district in the state. The 23rd district holds huge historical significance. Have ordered to immediately locate a suitable site for the district administrative complex." The CM said Punjab had 13 districts at Independence.
The chief minister underscored India’s secular character, which he said was manifested in the defeat of "communal forces" in the recent assembly elections in Tamil Nadu and West Bengal.
Recalling the rich history of Malerkotla, Amarinder Singh said the creation of the new district will ease the hardships of people in dealing with administrative problems.
Initially, subdivisions of Malerkotla and Ahmedgarh as well as the sub-tehsil of Amargarh will be included in the district. The process of bringing villages under the jurisdiction of Malerkotla district will begin later after the conclusion of the Census operations, he added.
Amarinder Singh directed the Sangrur deputy commissioner to find a suitable building to immediately start the functioning of the district administration office, according to an official statement
The deputy commissioner for the newly carved out district will be appointed soon, he said.
Announcing various development projects, the CM said a government medical college in the name of Sher Mohammed Khan, who had been a Nawab of Malerkotla, will soon be set up and the state government has already allotted 25 acres on the Raikot road for it. The first instalment of Rs 50 crore has already been sanctioned, he added.
The chief minister also announced the establishment of a government college for women.
A new bus stand will be constructed at a cost of Rs 10 crore, he said, adding Malekotla will also get a women police station.
To ensure holistic development of Malerkotla, the CM also announced a sum of Rs 6 crore under the Urban Environment Improvement Programme (UEIP).
To promote the cultural heritage of Malerkotla, the CM said he has written to Aga Khan Foundation to undertake conservation and restoration of the Mubarak Manzil Palace.
The Punjab government has acquired the 150-year-old palace and its restoration and upkeep will be a befitting tribute to the Nawabs of Malerkotla, he said.
Tracing the town’s history, the chief minister said it was established in 1454 by Sheikh Sadruddin-i-Jahan from Afghanistan and subsequently the State of Malerkotla was established in 1657 by Bayazid Khan. Malerkotla was later merged with other nearby princely states to create the Patiala and East Punjab States Union (PEPSU).
During the reorganisation of states in 1956, the territory of the erstwhile State of Malerkotla became part of Punjab. Going down memory lane, the chief minister, who belongs to the erstwhile Patiala royals, recalled his cordial ties with the then Nawab of Malerkotla, whom he fondly called chachaji and who lovingly addressed him bhateej (nephew) during his early childhood visits to the town.
The CM said people across the globe, especially Sikhs, revered Sher Mohammed Khan, former Nawab of Malerkotla, who protested against the inhuman act of torture and bricking alive of younger sons of Guru Gobind Singh–Baba Zorawar Singh and Baba Fateh Singh–by the then governor of Sirhind Wazir Khan. Amarinder said thereafter, Guru Gobind Singh blessed Nawab Sher Mohammed Khan and people of Malerkotla that the town will live in peace and happiness.
Malerkotla remained largely peaceful during the Partition in 1947, which saw communal clashes and large-scale migration of people across the India-Pakistan border. He further noted that the town is also blessed by Sufi saint Baba Haider Sheikh, whose dargah also exists there.
Punjab minister and Malerkotla MLA Razia Sultana and state Congress president Sunil Jakhar also spoke on the occasion.