DESPITE THE STATE BEING RULED BY CONGRESS PARTY, THE GOVERNMENT HAS LEFT IT NEGLECTED
It was September 21, 1923. Jawaharlal Nehru got arrested at Jaitu when he along with freedom fighters K Santhanam and Acharaya Gidwani had reached there to take part in Jaitu Morcha being undertaken under Gurdwara reform movement. He was arrested for defying an order banning entry to the princely state of Nabha. The cell in which he was kept is presently situated just adjacent to Jaitu Sadar police station. From there, he was sent to the Central Jail Nabha. “I rejoice that I am being tried for a cause which the Sikhs have made their own,” Jawaharlal Nehru had, on September 25, 1923, said in his statement from Nabha Central Jail, daring British rulers to try him for “sedition”. History books throw light on the fact that the Congress party, after passing a resolution passed in the special session supporting Akalis, sent Nehru, Gidwani and Santhanam to get first-hand information about political developments. But when they entered the state, they were arrested for want of permission from the British Administrator of Nabha. Though the Jaitu Cell in past got a status of historical structure, with some work related to restoration also initiated but now when the Congress party is in power in Punjab, the place, which historians feel is of “immense historical importance”, is crying for attention. In 2008, Congress vicepresident Rahul Gandhi had visited the cell, to pay tributes to his great grandfather. He had given Rs 65 lakh for the conservation of the cell. If one visits the structure, can realise that those negligible facilities which were created for visitors in past are also being used by the Police.
About a year back, Tourism Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu, during a visit to Faridkot, announced that the government of Punjab would undertake a Rs 50-lakh project for facelift and preservation of the cell but the statement couldn’t take physical shape. Notably, K Santanam, in his memoir ‘Handcuffed with Jawaharlal’, recalled how they were lodged in a separate and secluded part of the jail which had mud walls. The room was 20 ft by 12 ft. The roof, as well as the flooring, was also of mud. The roof and floor are still like that but it is not easy to reach the complex, crossing the openly flowing stinking sewage all around its huge gate. Though the Tourism department has acknowledged the historical importance of the structure by installing a signboard on the road, the filth gathered inside and outside the cell makes one get ashamed of the way it is being preserved. The localites sitting at a ‘Sath’ (a common place) just opposite the structure expressed their anguishes saying, “The government didn’t appoint any employee to maintain this important structure.” “We are surprised that Punjab is being ruled by the Congress party, which is nationally headed by Rahul Gandhi, a great-grandson of Nehru, still, this building is in utter neglect,” they added.
HISTORICAL FIR STILL THERE ON DISPLAY
Jaitu Police have kept the copy of FIR number 20 registered against Nehru on September 21, 1923, under section 145 of the IPC kept preserved. Written originally in Urdu and later translated in Punjabi, both copies are lying hanged in the police station.
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