Sikh warrior Banda Singh Bahadur's memorial at Kalanaur

Oberoi is spending close to Rs 2 crore just to ensure youngsters remember the great Sikh warrior.

Finally, after numerous hiccups and false starts, work to construct Banda Singh Bahadur memorial at the historical township of Kalanaur has commenced. In these days of Covid induced paranoia, where ministers are loath to physically attend functions, Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh did a virtual inauguration of the project several weeks ago. Later, the venture threatened to slip into oblivion, but for efforts of Dr Satnam Singh Nijjar, chairman of the Gurdaspur Planning Board. Nijjar successfully negotiated with the Punjab Wakf Board, which has leased part of its land for the construction and managed to pull the memorial out from gallows. The venture is being funded by construction magnate Surinder Pal Singh Oberoi, who flew in from Dubai for Friday’s ceremony. The function was attended among others by Cabinet minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa and officials of the district administration. Oberoi is spending close to Rs 2 crore just to ensure youngsters remember the great Sikh warrior. “Agreed that Banda Singh Bahadur is history, but I will like to inform the younger generation- mobile and internet ones- that if you do not know history, then you do not know anything. You are a leaf that does not know it is actually a part of a tree. For many, history is just a registry of crimes and follies committed by society. Not for me. For me, it is the very base on which civilisations exist. A generation which ignores history has no past and will have no future,” said Oberoi. The businessman also disclosed that a reputed Mumbai- based filmmaker has decided to produce and direct a film on him. He said Akshay Kumar would be playing the lead role. On the occasion, Oberoi donated Rs55-lakh luxury bus to the district administration. The vehicle would enable people to visit religious places in Gurdaspur district, including Kandh Sahib Gurdwara, Achleshwar Temple, Chotta Ghalughara Sahib Gurdwara and Kartarpur Corridor for free. It will ply on Amritsar-Gurdaspur route on a weekly basis. Keeping in view his contribution, Deputy Commissioner Mohammad Ishfaq, in the fitness of things, requested the businessman to flag off the bus. As Oberoi waved the green flag, the bus roared into motion and set off on its first tour.

‘Forgetting our heroes’

Cabinet Minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa delivered an impressive extempore the other day in Kalanaur. He became emotional while urging youngsters to read “life and times of great men like Banda Singh Bahadur.” His emotional range rivaled the most inspired of actors. He asked youngsters in the audience how many of them actually remembered the Sikh warrior. He was crest-fallen when not even a single hand went up. Then he delved deep into his speech and exhorted the youngsters to devote more time to remembering men who have changed their lives. “Those we love do not go away. They walk, besides us every day. Unseen, unheard but always near. Still loved, still missed and very dear,” he reminded the audience. After taking a break he went on with his speech, which was lapped by the gathering. “I know for certain, we never lose the people whom we love, even till death. They are a part of us in everything we do, every act we perform, every decision we make. Their love leaves an indelible imprint on our minds, in our memories. We find comfort in knowing that our lives have been enriched by these very men. Unfortunately, in an era of materialistic wealth, we tend to forget what these great men stood for,” he opined. Interestingly, towards the end of his extempore, Randhawa was courageous enough to admit that even the political class has forgotten its heroes, be it Banda Singh Bahadur or anybody else...

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