Grave of Jallianwala Bagh’s hero, Kitchlew, lies in utter neglect

“The city’s (Amritsar’s) residents feel Gandhi (Mahatma) had no role in Amritsar (Jallianwala Bagh tragedy). Dr Saifuddin Kitchlew, the local Punjabi leader, remains the most significant personality for them.” Professor Nonica Datta of JNU has written these words in the introduction to Jallianwala Bagh: A groundbreaking history of the 1919 massacre by V. N. Datta. 

Saifuddin Kitchlew, along with Satya Pal, was the leader against whose arrest people were protesting at Jallianwala Bagh in Amritsar when General Dyer opened fire upon them. Kitchlew was charged for promoting Hindu Muslim unity against the British. He campaigned with Subhas Chandra Bose for Purna Swaraj, a demand which Mahatma Gandhi had to accept. He was targeted by Muslim fanatics and Hindu fanatics alike in 1947 because of his principled stand against the partition and the riots which followed. He was the first Indian to receive Lenin Peace Prize (equivalent to Nobel Peace Prize in the Cold War era). 

What do you think has happened to his grave? We grew up listening to a couplet,

Shahido ke mazaaro par lagenge har baras mele

Watan par mitne waalo ka yahi akhiri nishan hoga

(There will be celebrations at the tombs of martyrs, in this way those who sacrifice them for the nation will be remembered)

But, the reality is in contrast to this couplet. Today, on the occasion of the anniversary of Jallianwala Bagh massacre I went to pay tribute to the leader of Jallianwala, Saifuddin Kitchlew at his grave in the graveyard of Jamia Millia Islamia and what I saw broke my heart. It would have broken the heart of any Indian patriot.

Grave of Saifuddin Kitchlew lies in neglect

The grave of Kitchlew was in a broken state. The grave stands forgotten. People don’t pay a visit to this grave and the condition is pathetic. I looked at the grave and Muztar Khairabadi’s words echoed through my heart:

Paye faatiha koi aaye kyu, koi chaar phool chadhaye kyu

Koi aake shama jalaye kyu, main wo bekasi ka mazar hu

(Why should people pay tribute, why should they keep flowers here

Why should they light a lamp, I am mausoleum of helplessness)  

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Md Umar Ashraf

Md. Umar Ashraf is a Delhi based Researcher, who after pursuing a B.Tech (Civil Engineering) started to explore, and bring to the world, the less known historical accounts. Mr. Ashraf has been associated with the museums at Red Fort & National Library as a researcher. With a keen interest in Bihar and Muslim politics, Mr. Ashraf has brought out legacies of people like Hakim Kabeeruddin (in whose honour the government recently issued a stamp). Presently, he is pursuing a Masters from AJK Mass Communication Research Centre, JMI & manages

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