Union Culture Minister Prahlad Singh Patel (File photo)
Union Culture Minister Prahlad Singh Patel (File photo)

LS passes bill on Jallianwala Bagh trust, minister says govt not trying to change history

ANI | Updated: Aug 02, 2019 22:40 IST

New Delhi [India], Aug 2 (ANI): The Lok Sabha on Friday passed Jallianwala Bagh National Memorial (Amendment) Bill, 2019 which seeks to do away with the automatic nomination of Congress president as trustee of the Jallianwala Bagh Memorial trust.
Culture Minister Prahlad Singh Patel during the discussion said that the government was not trying to "change history but to create history".
The Jallianwala Bagh National Memorial (Amendment) Bill, 2019, was passed after a contentious debate with the minister stating that the discussion had gone to a "low level" and he was both 'unhappy" and was somewhere "ashamed".
The debate saw members of treasury benches and opposition hurling constant accusations at each other. While the Congress members questioned the role of Sangh Parivar and related organisations in the freedom struggle, the ruling side members accused Congress of glorifying one family while not recognising the contribution of others in the freedom movement.
The Bill also saw opposition and ruling side members differing over purported remarks of a princely state ruler related to the tragic incident in 1919 in which over 1,000 persons were killed.
Patel said the effort was to make the memorial "national" and take it away from politics.
The minister said that Congress could have made a member from martyr Udham Singh's family part of the trust.
"We want that history and culture should not be re-written but at least there should be review. The people who have been left out, do you not want they should get their due," he said.
Stating that Congress leaders were making allegations in a hurry, he recalled that Mahatama Gandhi had stated that the country has got Independence and Congress should be disbanded.
He said former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi had presided over the memorial trust in 1970 when Jagjivan Ram was the Congress president.
He asked who was the Prime Minister when Sonia Gandhi had presided over the trust in 1998.
He said Congress should not point fingers at others and recalled how there had been insurrections against Britishers in different parts of the country which had not been adequately recognized.
Not satisfied with the reply of the minister, Congress and several other opposition parties staged a walkout.
Earlier, moving the bill for passage, Patel said there should not be the politicisation of institutions but their nationalisation.
While Congress member Gurjeet Singh Aujla accused the BJP and organizations linked to it of not having a role in the freedom struggle, Food Processing Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal hit back at the Congress and raked up the 1984 anti-Sikh riots.
She said that family of a Congress member who was in power had sent a telegram to General Dyer, who had ordered firing on innocent people in Amritsar, that his action was "correct" and had been approved by the Governor-General.
Congress members strongly objected to her remarks.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi said that Badal, who belongs to Shiromani Akali Dal, had not taken any names.
Badal said former Congress leader Sajjan Kumar was now in jail. "How did the riots happen?" she asked.
Aujla accused the BJP-led government of trying to rewrite history and of trying to obliterate contributions of Congress.
He said Congress leaders Mahatma Gandhi Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Sardar Patel had spent long years in British jails during the freedom struggle.
Referring to Congress President Rahul Gandhi, Aujla said members of Nehru-Gandhi had made sacrifices before and after the Independence.
Opposing the bill, he asked what was "compulsion of government" in wanting to remove the Congress president as a trustee and alleged the BJP wants to promote members of its ideology.
Congress member Saugata Roy opposed the Bill and said the trust to manage the Jallianwala National Memorial was set up by Mahatma Gandhi. Roy said the Congress was not the same as it was in the pre-Independence era but it is the successor organization.
He accused the BJP-led government of "trying to promote Sangh Parivar style of history" saying it was against national ethos.
Shiv Sena member Rahul Ramesh Shewale accused Rahul Gandhi of insulting Veer Savarkar.
The Bill amends the Jallianwala Bagh National Memorial Act, 1951 which was passed to erect a National Memorial in memory of those killed and wounded in the Jallianwala Bagh massacre.
In addition, the Bill also creates a trust to manage the memorial. Under the provisions of the Act, the trustees of the Memorial include the Prime Minister as Chairperson, the Congress president, the Minister-in-charge of Culture, the Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha, the Governor and Chief Minister of Punjab, and three eminent persons nominated by the Centre as its members.
It further clarifies that when there is no Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha then the leader of the single largest opposition party in the Lok Sabha will be the trustee.
The Centre's move comes after 100 years of Jallianwala Bagh massacre. The Bill also allows the central government to terminate the term of a nominated trustee before the expiry of the period of his term.
The Modi government had attempted to get the Bill passed from Parliament at the near end of its first tenure, passing it in Lok Sabha in February 2019. However, the Rajya Sabha did not pass the Bill amid strong opposition from the Congress party and it, therefore, lapsed with the 16th Lok Sabha. (ANI)