Andaman and Nicobar Lt Governor Prof JagdishMukhi today said three roads in Port Blair would be named after Shaheed-e-AzamBhagat Singh, Shaheed Dr Diwan Singh Kalepani and Shaheed Madan Lal Dhingra.
The information to this effect was shared by him with a delegation from the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee that interacted with him for more than an hour. The delegation called for providing due space to the Punjabis in the narrative of Kala Pani at least in proportion to their contribution who suffered brutalities and torture at the hands of British colonisers. Dr Diwan Singh was martyred by the Japanese who took over these islands during World War II.
Prof Mukhi was open to all the suggestions and said the light and sound programme would be revisited within the next six months. It may be mentioned that the role of the Punjabis has been by and large overlooked in the present narrative of the Cellular Jail that is now the national museum.
It may be mentioned that the issue was raised in the Lok Sabha last month by Akali Dal MP from Anandpur Sahib Prof Prem Singh Chandumajra as a follow up to the media report that highlighted skewed presentation of the Cellular Jail narrative undermining the role of Punjabis.
Significantly, Prof Mukhi said the number of Punjabis who were deported to Cellular Jail was more than freedom fighters from any other region of the country. The perception so far is that the number of Bengali freedom fighters was the highest.
The delegation pointed out that pictures of the freedom fighters that were exhibited earlier in the main gallery had been removed around six months back. He assured to look into this sensitive issue. The gallery earlier started with the Sikh freedom fighters.
Led by SGPC General Secretary Amarjit Singh Chawla, the delegation included Its executive member Surjit Singh Bhittewad, Additional Secretary Harbhajan Singh Manawan, Director Education Dr Dharminder Singh Ubha, Dr Paramveer Singh from Punjabi University, Senior Journalist Jagtar Singh and Gurdarshan Singh Bahia.
The Lt Governor invited suggestions and concrete proposals to be incorporated in the revised light and sound programme.
A memorandum was submitted to him on behalf of Prof Chandumajra by Jagtar Singh and Gurdarshan Singh Bahia.
Prof Chandumajra had referred to the Union Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Ananth Kumar to him on the floor of the Lok Sabha to review light and sound programme and the associated narrative.
The memorandum stated this was a sensitive issue for the Punjabis.The Punjabi community was proud of the fact that it made maximum sacrifices for the freedom of the country. The land of Punjab produced Shaheed-e-Azam Bhagat Singh. Going by the record available, out of 121 freedom fighters who courted gallows, 93 were Sikhs. Similarly, out of 2646 freedom fighters sentenced to life imprisonment, no less than 2147 were again Sikhs.
He regretted that the same was not being effectively reflected in the narrative there that includes, besides the exhibition halls, the light and sound programme. Moreover, several names of freedom fighters like those from the Babbar Akalis are missing from the record.