Picture of semi-naked women in Jallianwala Bagh gallery riles many

VISHAL GULATI

Amritsar

A controversy has erupted over the placement of a picture of two semi-naked women striking different poses — similar to those depicted in Ajanta and Ellora caves — at an upcoming renovated photo gallery at the Jallianwala Bagh amid portraits of national heroes and first Sikh master, Guru Nanak Dev.

The International Sarv Kamboj Samaj has lodged a strong protest with PM Modi — the Jallianwala Bagh National Memorial Trust President — and sought the removal of the offending photo from the national memorial to the Indian freedom struggle. The Jallianwala Bagh complex is currently undergoing a massive makeover in this historical city of Punjab. The renovation/restoration began on February 15 under the supervision of Archaeological Survey of India and will reopen to the public from July 31. The Centre has allocated Rs20 crore in the first phase through the Ministry of Culture.

The renovation is supervised by BJP member of Parliament Shwait Malik, also a trustee of the Jallianwala Bagh National Memorial Trust. He last visited the galley on July 17. “The Jallianwala Bagh is no less than a pilgrimage centre for every Indian. Hundreds of people, comprising schoolkids and families, visit it every day to pay respect to those who sacrificed their lives for the country,” International Sarv Kamboj Samaj President Bobby Kamboj told IANS.

He said it was a “shame for us when we came to know on Saturday the authorities had put on display the picture of semi-nude women in the gallery, which houses a collection of portraits and paintings of national heroes and Sikh gurus.” He said the martyrs have been “insulted” by such display of an offensive picture in the gallery.

In a letter to PM Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah, and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, he said the trust had also insulted the martyrs by setting up a ticket window right in front of the statue of Shaheed Udham Singh at the main entrance. It demanded the shifting of the ticket window as well.

“I have no information about the installation of the picture of two semi-naked women in the gallery,” trustee Malik told the media. In fact, he was caught on camera while standing in front of the offensive picture during his last visit to the gallery. “I will inquire (about the semi-naked pic) and only then comment,” he added.

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