Amrirsar: The renovation of century-old Martyrs' Well at the historic Jallianwala Bagh has drawn criticism from Amritsar (West) MLA and senior Congress leader Dr Raj Kumar Verka while families of the martyrs cautioned the authorities against any damage to the structure.
The Congress MLA expressed anguish over the way the renovation was being carried out, alleging that the main part of the historic well "had been dismantled".
A century ago on April 13, 1919, the British troops under the command of Col Reginald Dyer had opened fire at people staging a peaceful demonstration in the Jallianwala Bagh, leaving scores dead.
A large number of them had jumped into the well to save themselves from the indiscriminate firing.
Descendants of the martyrs cautioned against any damage to the structure. A descendant of a martyr killed in the Jaiilianwalla Bagh tragedy, Krishana Chohan, who was born in 1933, said, "My uncle Mela Ram was martyred at the age of 18 on that ill-fated day at the Jallianwalla Bagh during the indiscriminate firing. The original character of the historic well should not be changed."
Mahesh Behl, whose grandfather Lala Hari Ram, an advocate, was martyred in the massacre at the age of 36, said, "This well, located on the premises of the Jallianwala Bagh, stands testimony to the brutal killing of innocents who jumped into it to save themselves from the indiscriminate firing. Care should be taken so that the original structure does not get altered."
However, Punjab BJP president and Rajya Sabha MP Shwait Malik, who is a trustee of the Jallianwalla Bagh National Memorial Trust, said the team involved in the renovation had been told not to disturb the heritage part of the well.
"A few years ago, some brick work was done around the well. Now, it was lying in a dilapidated state due to which the well is being renovated," Malik added.
Malik, who was in Delhi, said over the phone that nobody would be allowed to change the original character of the century-old structure and care would be taken during its renovation.
On the other hand, the secretary of the trust, S K Mukherjee, said the Archaeological Survey of India was supervising the ongoing renovation work. Those engaged in the renovation work claimed that the historic well would don a modern look without compromising on its original character.