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Mainstream, Vol XLVII, No 8, February 7, 2009

Strong Support for Demand for Freedom Fighters’ Memorial near India Gate

Wednesday 11 February 2009, by Bharat Dogra

This is a demand that should get the support of all self-respecting citizens of India who take pride in their glorious freedom movement and accord the highest respect to the martyrs of this movement. This is the demand for creating a magnificent memorial to honour the martyrs of the freedom movement and freedom fighters near India Gate in New Delhi.

Every year in the ceremonies relating to the Republic Day and Independence Day, it is this site which occupies a very important role and therefore it will be a fitting tribute to the memory of the martyrs of our freedom movement that a memorial for them is constructed at this site.

The campaign for this memorial, co-ordinated by the ‘Teesraa Swadheenta Andolan’ (TSA), is gathering strong support. The recent satyagraha by activists of the TSA at Jantar Mantar to press for this demand attracted people and organisations from many walks of life who came to extend their support and express their solidarity.

The TSA has identified a site at the centre of the hexagonal park where once a statue of King George V of Britain had stood. This was removed following an agitation against it and now only a canopy remains. According to the TSA, which has worked on a lot on this issue, this site will be most suitable for creating a magnificent memorial in honour of the martyrs of the freedom movement.

INDIA GATE, known as the All India War Memorial, was constructed in memory of the soldiers of the Army of British rulers who perished in World War I and in the Afghan War. This was inaugurated by the same Lord Irwin who had played an important role in hanging India’s most valiant freedom fighters—Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru—despite a strong nationwide demand for waiving their death sentence.

Of course, much later the Amar Jawan Jyoti was also installed at India Gate to honour the martyrs of the 1971 Indo-Pak War, but the main and original identity of India Gate remains associated with the solders of the British Raj Army.

This is why the TSA has campaigned that as important ceremonies of the Republic Day and Independence Day take place at this site, the government should create a magnificent monument near this site so that it is the freedom fighters and martyrs of the freedom movement who are honoured in the course of these ceremonies.

The TSA has been mobilising support for this demand since the last two years. The TSA wrote a detailed letter to the President on May 31, 2008 which was forwarded to the Home Ministry and subsequently to the Ministry of Culture.

Meanwhile this demand is attracting a growing number of supporters and a strong movement is likely to emerge soon in support of this demand. As Prof Jagmohan Singh, the National Organiser of the TSA, says,
The ideals and sacrifices of our freedom movement are our most invaluable heritage. We need memorials to remind people constantly about these ideals and sacrifices to inculcate in them the determination and strength to create a new India, a better India which can claim to be in conformity with the spirit of the freedom movement.

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