Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Maharaja Duleep Singh rest house report to be prepared.

The state government has decided to preserve and renovate the Bassi canal rest house, popularly known as kothi, 20 months after the world showed interest in the auction of Rani Zindan’s necklace. It was here that Britishers had detained the queen and her last Sikh ruler son, Maharaja Dalip Singh.

A team of officials led by RC Aggarwal, director, archeology department, Prithvi Raj Luthra, chief architect of Punjab, and Kamaljit Singh Cheema, chief political secretary, inspected the kothi and will submit their report to the Chief Minister within two months. Renovation of the monument would start as soon as the Chief Minister approves it, the officials claimed.

Residents are upset over the poor upkeep of this historical building. What to talk of preserving its originality, the authorities have failed to even get 7 acres, worth a few crores allegedly grabbed by a few farmers of Bassi town, freed, residents said.

A few police and civil officials have allegedly removed goods worth crores, including economically and medicinally useful trees. The thick canopy of green vegetation that once used to prevent the sun’s rays from reaching the ground is nowhere to be seen, they alleged.

The residents of the area had urged the state government to dedicate the place in memory of Maharaja Dalip Singh and Maharani Zindan and open an educational institute or a multi-specialty hospital in the building.

Investigations by The Tribune revealed that the building of the Bassi canal rest house in Ludhiana district, which once used to bustle with British officials, is now crying for attention. Main hall, living rooms, sentry posts, servant quarters and separate kitchens are all deserted now. Only family members of Dewan Chand, a chowkidar, posted here for the past 15 years, inhabit a portion of its annexes.

According to Dewan Chand, a few residents and president of the Raikot senior citizens’ council Prem Nath Dubey, Maharaja Dalip Singh and Maharani Zindan were detained here before being taken to Delhi for an exile. They were taken in a bullock cart and it took 18 days for the convoy to reach Delhi.

Five Namdharis, who participated in the famous Kuka Movement against Britishers, were imprisoned here before being hanged to death in 1850.Water of a few wells of this place was so sweet that it was sent to Lahore for senior British officials’ use.

Besides being used as an official resident of senior officials, the premise was used as recruitment centre for the police and the British army. Easy availability of water from Daudhar and Sudhar canals facilitated cultivation here.

The Tribune had published a number of stories highlighting demand raised by the residents. This was followed by first ever memorial programme “Vishal Utsav”. It was organised by the Maharaja Dalip Singh Memorial Foundation being patronised by former MLA Jagdev Singh Jassowal.

Taking cognisance of reports published in these columns Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal had recently visited the venue and assured the residents that work on preservation of the historical building would start soon.

Mahesh Sharma, Bassian,Tribune India, May 9

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