New Delhi: Outrage piled over the renovation of Jallianwala Bagh in Punjab, a martyr memorial of thousands of people who died in the British firing 102 years ago, where Congress leader Rahul Gandhi slammed the Union government, calling the renovation an insult to martyrs.
Taking to Twitter he said, "those who didn't struggle for freedom can't understand those who did." In another tweet in Hindi, he said the change can only be done by one who does not know the meaning of martyrdom."
The reopening ceremony of the revamped memorial complex was done in the presence of the Prime Minister on Saturday. The extravagant display of lights during the opening ceremony, depicting events of the day of the massacre, has further infuriated the public and opposition leaders, who alleged that the government is trying to denigrate the freedom struggle.
CPM leader Sitaram Yechury said, "only those who stayed away from the epic freedom struggle can scandalise thus". Shiv Sena MP Priyanka Chaturvedi wrote of "the pain... the loss (and) the tragedy" and slammed attempts to "beautify" or "modify" those memories.
"The pain was real, the loss was immense, the tragedy was unforgettable. Sometimes the places evoke pain and serve as a reminder of what we lost and what we fought for. Trying to 'beautify' or 'modify' those memories are doing great damage to our collective history," she tweeted.
Besides politicians, academics have also criticised the renovation, saying they had failed to appreciate the significance of Jallianwala Bagh and the iconic place it has in the Indian independence struggle.
"This is the corporatisation of monuments... where they end up as modern structures, losing the heritage value. Look after them without meddling with the flavours of the period these memorials represent," historian S Irfan Habib tweeted.
Another historian, Kim A Wagner, tweeted: "Devastated to hear that Jallianwala Bagh, site of the Amritsar Massacre of 1919, has been revamped - which means that the last traces of the event have effectively been erased."