Heritage gameplan to win war of perception
By Harpreet Bajwa - CHANDIGARH
Published: 17th Nov 2013 07:04:44 AM
Eyes firmly on the 2014 elections, the Punjab government is building on its ethnic identity, brick by brick. The SAD-BJP combine in the state is raising memorials to serve multiple purposes—help Akalis distance themselves from Panthic issues and focus on Sikh and Hindu heritage, which would take care of the needs of the BJP, while successfully making inroads into the Congress vote bank.
Four memorials have already been built and 10 more are in the pipeline. The government says that they will go a long way in making the youth aware about the state’s rich history and heritage.
Out of these, one in Joga near Ludhiana, is meant to pay homage to cows. The government will set up the cow memorial at a factory site in Joga, which was the site of riots last year after cow carcasses were found there. The project is likely to cost around Rs 2 crore and the money has been already sanctioned. The local administration has acquired 23 kanal land, including that of the factory where the cows were killed. The memorial will include a statue of a cow besides a veterinary hospital.
The Jang-e-Azaadi memorial at Kartarpur near Jalandhar aims at highlighting the contribution of Punjabis to the Indian Independence struggle. It will come up on over 25 acres of land belonging to the state government. The land has been transferred to the tourism and culture department for construction of the memorial, which would be built at a cost of `200 crore. A 10-member team, headed by Barjinder Singh Hamdard, is working out modalities. Four feature-cum-documentary films on the freedom struggle will be made by Shyam Benegal for the memorial.
Besides several other monuments are coming up in different parts of the state to showcase the rich cultural legacy of the state. A memorial at Amritsar-Attari road to mark the visit of Swami Vivekanand to Punjab is also being planned. A memorial is also being constructed at Attari near Amritsar to highlight the contribution of Punjabis in the armed forces.
The state government had already developed Virast-e-Khalsa memorial-cum-museum at Anandpur Sahib in the memory of the foundation of the Khalsa Panth. The memorial of Chhota Ghalughara at Chamb Kahnuwan in Gurdaspur, that of Wadda Ghalughara at Kup Rahiran in Sangrur and another in the memory of Baba Banda Singh Bahadur in Chaparchiri at Mohali have also been completed. Recently, the foundation stone was laid to build a Rs 115 crore memorial at the Ram Tirth in the memory of Maharishi Valmiki. Similarly, structures are being planned in the memory of Bhai Mati Dass, Bhai Sati Dass and Bhai Dyala at Anandpur Sahib and Baba Moti Ram Mehra and Diwan Todar Mal at Fatehgarh Sahib.
Justifying the construction of memorials, Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal said, “The memorials are being planned to make the youth aware of their history. The state government has decided to build memorials to commemorate different historical events and famous persons who made the history of state so that our next generation can get inspiration from these to develop Punjab as a secular and socialist state.” He said a total of 10 such museums will be constructed.
Other memorials on the anvil are those in the honour of Bhagwan Parshu Ram at Khaati village in SBS Nagar, of Baba Jiwan Singh at Anandpur Sahib and of Guru Ravidass at Khuralgarh in Hoshiarpur.
Badal, who is spearheading the memorial building spree, is holding meetings with the concerned officers at least twice a month to review work. He also constituted committees with ministers, religious leaders, historians, bureaucrats, journalists and architects for planning the memorials.