Punjab’s Jang-e-Azadi Memorial: A Monument in Disrepair

by Manjari Singh

The Jang-e-Azadi memorial, a significant landmark commemorating the sacrifices of India’s freedom fighters, is facing severe neglect despite the Punjab Government’s initial investment of Rs 315 crore. Located on the Jalandhar-Amritsar highway, the monument, once a major tourist attraction, is now plagued by maintenance issues that are disappointing visitors.

Upon entering the memorial, tourists are greeted by an array of problems. Cobwebs and layers of dust cover the displays, stray animal excreta, and bird droppings are scattered throughout the five galleries. The memorial’s floors appear unswept for days, and display items are obscured by dust. The model of the memorial at the reception has a broken glass top, and the miniature pieces inside it are deteriorating. Some of the interactive table-mounted screens no longer respond to touch, further diminishing the visitor experience.

The once-popular laser show is no longer operational, and tiles on the upper floors are falling off. High dome wallpapers are peeling away, and the flame inside the 45-meter tall Shaheed-e-Minar is extinguished due to a lack of fuel replenishment.

Staff at the memorial have reportedly not received their salaries for six to ten months, leading to a significant reduction in their numbers from 40 to just 12. Currently, only one maintenance worker is responsible for the upkeep of the entire 25-acre site. The remaining staff comprises a few gardeners, security personnel, ticketing staff, and guides for the galleries.

The Chief Executive Officer of the project and Deputy Commissioner of Jalandhar, Himanshu Aggarwal, acknowledged the issues, stating, “I joined in Jalandhar in the midst of the LS poll. I could not find time to pay attention to the memorial. Now that I am free from election work, I will look into the problems at the site.”

The decline of the memorial began last year when the Vigilance Bureau initiated an inquiry into allegations of misappropriation of funds. The investigation targets include Ajit Group managing editor Barjinder S Hamdard, IAS officer and former CEO Vinay Bublani, Ludhiana-based Deepak Builders, and engineers from the PWD. Funded by previous SAD and Congress governments, the current AAP government initiated the inquiry into financial irregularities.

The memorial houses five galleries depicting pivotal historical events such as the Jallianwala Bagh massacre, the cellular jail, Bhagat Singh’s bombing of the Central Legislative Assembly and his subsequent hanging, the Ghadar Movement, and the Kuka Movement. These events are presented through short films, visual effects, large sculptures, and textual descriptions.

The neglect of such an important cultural and historical site underscores the need for urgent attention and sustainable maintenance strategies. Without immediate intervention, the Jang-e-Azadi memorial risks losing its significance as a tribute to the valiant freedom fighters it was built to honor.

Manjari Singh

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