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Why has Bengal’s Mukherjee family maintained the Jallianwala Bagh tomb for 101 years?

30 January, 2021 12:05:42
Why has Bengal’s Mukherjee family maintained the Jallianwala Bagh tomb for 101 years?

For all of us who have stood infront of the Jallianwala Bagh Memorial and paid tribute to the 5,000 plus Indians who had been ruthlessly butchered by the British army under General Dyer, the following story of the Mukherji family from Bengal will come as a surprise. Among those who had gathered for a peaceful demonstration on this day around 101 years ago, was a doctor named Sasthi Charan Mukherji from Bengal. He was originally from Hooghly and later moved to Allahabad to practice medicine and made quite a name for himself in his profession. He was close to the then President of Indian National Congress, Madan Mohan Malviya and was part of several freedom movement processions, lectures and events. Dr Mukherji was present on that fateful day at the site of the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre in search of a spot for a session of the Congress.

Little did he know he would soon be a part of the darkest chapter of colonial history of India. Sasthi Charan was one of the few people who survived this massacre. But he was so pained witnessing the gruesome massacre first-hand that he approached the Indian National Congress to acquire that land where Indians lost their lives from the British. The British had wanted to start a market at that location. In 1920 the land was priced at a whooping 5.65 lakh and Dr Mukherji raised the money by going door to door and bought the land in an open auction. Though the British tried to put him behind the bars, they were not successful for long and Dr Mukherji became the first secretary of the Jallianwala Bagh Memorial. 

Even after 100 years, the Mukherji family remains as the keeper of the memorial. Despite many hardships, Dr Mukherji’s grandson lives in the single-roomed quarters of the memorial and maintains its upkeep. It is quite a tryst with destiny that a Bengali family has been maintaining the memorial in distant Punjab for almost a century now.

Story Tag:
  • Jallianwala Bagh tomb

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