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Amarinder Singh says Jallianwala Bagh renovation looks ‘nice’ after Rahul Gandhi calls it ‘insult’ to martyrs

The Punjab CM’s different line has raised eyebrows within the Congress and it comes at a time when he is facing a revolt from many of his colleagues in the poll-bound state.

August 31, 2021 / 08:45 PM IST

Congress leaders have taken two different stances on the controversial renovation of Jallianwala Bagh in Punjab where over 1,000 people died in the year 1919 after the British, led by General Dyer, opened fire on men and women holding a peaceful protest.

Within hours of Congress member of parliament Rahul Gandhi terming the renovated Jallianwala Bagh an “insult to martyrs”, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh took a different line on August 31 and said that the revamped memorial looked “nice”.

READ: Jallianwala Bagh revamped: Centre criticised for ‘insensitive’ representation

“I was a part of the inauguration function of the renovated Jallianwala Bagh when Prime Minister Narendra Modi threw it open for the public. A laser show was also organised. I feel they needed to repair the walls, which had developed cracks. The renovation looks nice to me,” Captain Amaridner Singh said on the sidelines of an event in the state on August 31.

The renovated memorial and the gaudy lights show has triggered criticism from many, including historians and opposition leaders, who accused the government of destroying history.

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Among those who criticised the renovation was Rahul Gandhi who called it insult of martyrs.

"Such an insult to the martyrs of Jallianwala Bagh can only be done by those who do not know the meaning of martyrdom. I am the son of a martyr - I will not tolerate the insult of martyrs at any cost. We are against this indecent cruelty," Gandhi tweeted in Hindi on August 31 attaching a screenshot of a media report showing the light and laser display that accompanied the re-opening

The Punjab CM’s different line has raised eyebrows within the Congress and it comes at a time when he is facing a revolt from many of his colleagues in the poll-bound state.

Also, read: Analysis: The constant struggles of an alternate leadership to the Gandhis in Congress

Many other leaders including Gaurav Gogoi, Jaiveer Shergill, KC Venugopal also criticised the renovation.

Historian S Irfan Habib called the revamp “corporatisation” of monuments and asked the government to look after them without meddling with the “flavours of the periods these memorials represent”.

British historian Kim A Wagner, who has written a book titled “Jallianwala Bagh”, said that “the last traces of the event have effectively been erased”.

Wagner’s post was also retweeted by British Member of Parliament Preet Kaur Gill, who wrote, “Our history- being erased! Why?”

On August 30, during the inauguration of the renovated complex, Prime Minister Modi said that horrors like the Jallianwala Bagh massacre spoke of sacrifices made for freedom and should not be forgotten.
Gulam Jeelani is a journalist with over 11 years of reporting experience. Based in New Delhi, he covers politics and governance for Moneycontrol.
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