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INTACH Submits Report to PM Modi Pointing Out Lapses in Jallianwala Bagh Facelift

Multicrore ‘Facelift’ project at Jallianwala Bagh full of improper descriptive text and misspelt signboards.
INTACH Submits Report to PM Modi Pointing Out Lapses in Jallianwala Bagh Facelift

Jallianwala Bagh Memorial. Image Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

A team of The Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) has pointed out “improper descriptive text” on wall panels and “misspelt signboards written in Punjabi” at the historic Jallianwala Bagh, site in Amritsar. Previously, objections were raised over fresh alterations done and structures raised during the multi-crore facelift project of Jallianwala Bagh.

According to a report in The Tribune, the team’s observations have also been brought to the notice of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is the chairman of the Jallianwala Bagh National Memorial Trust, and other trustees, including the Punjab Chief Minister, for rectification.

In December of 2021, Tarlochan Singh, a former Member of Parliament and member of the Jallianwala Bagh National Memorial Trust pinpointed several lapses in the changes and additions that were introduced during the renovation carried out by the ministry under the supervision of Archeological Survey of India (ASI) and had also submitted a report to the Union Ministry of Culture.

As per the report in The Tribune, Prof Sukhdev Singh, the state convener of INTACH, said the spelling errors and incorrect description had led to a change in its original meaning and significance. “There is no wall panel or board mentioning details of those who sacrificed their lives on April 13, 1919,” he said.

According to Singh,  the “Sufferers’ Accounts” at the museum were wrongly mentioned. Under the title, “That night of 13th April”, in Ratan Devi’s narration, it was written that she passed the whole night sitting beside heaps of bodies in that “solitary jungle”, whereas the Jallianwala Bagh was centrally located in the old walled city just a few yards away from the Golden Temple and surrounded by densely located markets.

Several other improper descriptive texts have been put up all over the museum. “Kucha Kaurianwala” (referring to the passage from where people were made to crawl while whipping), is mentioned with the wrong terminology in Punjabi as “Kodianwala”, which actually means “leprosy affected”, thereby disrupting its actual meaning.

Singh also believes that such mistakes with funny narratives at the historic site were an insult to the martyrs. The INTACH team observed that the large-size metal murals of imaginary human figures never matched the originality of the 1919 Punjabi population with middle-aged Sikh men wearing “patkas” or turbans and children supporting “spiked hair” which Singh describes as a relatively ‘modern hairstyle’.

The team also pointed out that the pedestal that was earlier there to mark the exact location from where British officer Reginald Edward Harry Dyer had ordered to shoot indiscriminately at the gathering, was removed and replaced with a marble stone tile merged on the floor, which was hardly recognised by visitors making the visitors just walk over the spot of the firing without knowing its significance.

Another major discrepancy pointed out by the team includes the martyrs well. Under the new renovations, the martyrs’ well has been enclosed by a glass sheet from all sides, leaving some space for visitors to throw currency and coins- giving it an impression of a place of worship. The exit also has a metallic board where directions in Punjabi are misspelt.

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