Tribune correspondent PK Jaiswar and lensman Sunil Kumar give us an insight into the statues erected in memory of great warriors in Amritsar. Standing tall, these structures speak volumes of the courage and sacrifice of bravehearts.
IF Punjab is known as the land of saints and Gurus, it is also identified as the land of warriors and freedom fighters who contributed immensely to the country’s freedom movement. The Jallianwala Bagh massacre, which shook the conscience of every Indian and inspired the countrymen to choose the path of freedom struggle, is deeply etched in the memory of every Indian. Though the holy city of Amritsar holds religious and historical relevance, it is also akin to the freedom struggle, with many prominent heroes belonging to this pious land. Many statues and busts have been installed at various places in the city to honour them. Speaking volumes of the historic valour of the holy city, these statues are likely to inspire generations to come.
Maharaja Ranjit Singh
The city has two statues of the legendary Sikh ruler – one at Ram Bagh, which was a summer palace and the other was built recently at the Heritage Street. The one located at Ram Bagh was unveiled in June 1985 by the then Government of Punjab. It is one of the most visited places by locals. Known as Sher-e-Punjab, Maharaja Ranjit Singh extended the frontiers of his state from Sutlej River to Ladakh, Peshawar to Sindh and consolidated Punjab into a prosperous state with highly efficient administrative system.
Shaheed Udham Singh
Brought up at the Central Khalsa Orphanage Centre in Amritsar, Udham Singh was considered to be a great revolutionary belonging to the Ghadar Party. He is known for assassinating Michael O’Dwyer responsible for the Jallianwala Bagh massacre in Amritsar in April 1919.
O’Dwyer, a former Lieutenant Governor of Punjab, was assassinated in London, following which Udham Singh was convicted and hanged in July 1940. His statue was installed outside Gandhi Gate or Hall Gate by the Municipal Corporation and the Shaheed Udham Singh Yaadgari Committee on his 50th death anniversary in December 1990.
Akali Phula Singh
Akali Phula Singh Nihang was another great Sikh general of Shaheedan misl and was the head of Budha Dal. He played a vital role in uniting Sikh misls in Amritsar.
He remained the Sikh Army general and led in many battles until his martyrdom in the Naushehra battle.
Jassa Singh Ramgarhia
A 20 feet high bronze statue of Sikh warrior Jassa Singh Ramgarhia was installed over a pedestal at a park near East Mohan Nagar in the industrial area in 1992. Founder of Ramgarhia misl, he was born on May 5, 1723. He had fortified and constructed the fort of Ram Rauni (already lost its existence) in Amritsar. Ram Rauni Fort, along with Ahluwalia Fort and Gobindgarh Fort, was built to save the Golden Temple from foreign invasions. He occupied the area to the north of Amritsar between Ravi and Beas and added Jalandhar region and Kangra hill areas to his estate.
Subhas Chandra Bose
Founder of the Indian National Army, Subhas Chandra Bose’s statue is situated at Bhandari Bridge. Only a few people know that the great freedom fighter had a brief stopover at the holy city before his ‘great escape’ to Germany via Kashmir, Kabul, Russia in the early 1940s.
Mohandas K Gandhi
The statue of Mahatma Gandhi, the Father of the Nation, is perhaps the oldest statue in the city. Situated in the historical Ram Bagh, popularly known as Company Bagh, it was unveiled by former Vice President of India Dr S Radhakrishnan on his birth anniversary on October 2, 1960. It has witnessed the transformation of the holy city over the past many decades. As per historians, Mahatma Gandhi visited Amritsar twice.
The bust of renowned freedom fighter Dr Saifuddin Kitchlew was unveiled in 1980 by the then Finance Minister Balwant Singh. Kitchlew was an Amritsar-born Kashmiri. He did his schooling from Islamia High School in Amritsar and did his graduation from Cambridge University. He did his PhD from a German University. He was arrested, along with Mahatma Gandhi and Dr Satyapal, for leading protests against the implementation of the Rowlatt Act in Punjab.
Hari Singh Nalwa
Legendary Sikh general Hari Singh Nalwa was the commander-in-chief of Sikh Khalsa Fauj under Maharaja Ranjit Singh. He was famous for his unparalleled expeditions to expand the Sikh empire territory right up to the Khyber Pass and defending North Western Frontier Province. He was known for his role in the conquest and establishment of the Sikh empire (Khalsa Raj) in Kasur, Sialkot, Attock, Multan, Kashmir, Peshawar and Jamrud. His statue was recently constructed near the Town Hall in Heritage Street leading towards the Golden Temple.
Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru
The statue of India’s first PM Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru was installed at Nehru Shopping Complex on Lawrence Road in December 2006 by Congress leader Raghunandan Lal Bhatia. The statue now cries for attention with bird droppings all over it.
Madan Lal Dhingra
Another great martyr from the holy city, Madan Lal Dhingra has two statues, one at the HIG flats near Amritsar’s interstate bus terminus and the other was recently installed at Heritage Street. Born to an educated and affluent family in 1883, he was hanged in England after he assassinated a British official, William Hutt Curzon Wyllie, for disrespecting an Indian student.
Dr BR Ambedkar
A statue of Dr BR Ambedkar was installed near the Town Hall. An architect of the Indian Constitution, he was also the first Law and Justice Minister after Independence.
Sham Singh Attariwala
The statue of another Sikh General Sham Singh Attariwala was installed in January 17, 2010, and was unveiled by the then CM Parkash Singh Badal. Born in the 1790s in Attari, a few kilometres from the Indo-Pak border, he was made a jathedar of 5,000 horsemen. He participated in many Sikh military operations, including Attock battle, Multan and Peshawar battles during the Afghan-Sikh wars.