India’s freedom struggle saw many ups and downs and has been dotted with countless martyrdoms. Undoubtedly the Punjabis excelled in making supreme sacrifices and it is a matter of immense pride and honour for the State that all the watershed movements associated with the country’s freedom struggle like the Kuka, the Ghadar movement, Kamagata Maru, the Gurdwara Reforms and the Babbar Akali were spearheaded by Punjabis.
The spirit of bravery and sacrifice is imbibed in the blood of Punjabis. Initiatives that propagate a spirit of patriotism and self sacrifice amongst the people, especially the younger generation, must be made to sensitize our younger generations as most of them are quite unaware of our rich cultural heritage.
It has been in the fitness of things to embark on a memorial to pay respect to all those who laid down their lives in the freedom struggle. The Chief Minister laid the foundation stone of the Jang-e-Azaadi memorial near Kartarpur sprawling over an area of 25 acres at an estimated cost of Rs 200 Crore. He said it was a humble tribute to numerous Punjabi unsung heroes of the national freedom struggle, who made enormous contribution at the altar of the motherland. Recalling the unparalleled and unique sacrifices made by the Punjabis in the Indian freedom struggle, he said though the Punjabis comprised 2 per cent of the country’s population, yet more than 80 per cent sacrifices had been made by the Punjabis alone. Highlighting the role of Punjabis in the freedom struggle, CM Badal said that more than 80 per cent of prisoners of ‘Kalepani’ were from Punjab. He said all the countries of world have created grand memorials for their martyrs and it hurts him the most that our country did little in this direction.
He said he bowed in reverence to the martyrs for their supreme contribution to the freedom struggle and said that the Jang-e-Azaadi memorial was a real tribute in recognition to their unprecedented sacrifices and would always act as a beacon to guide the destiny of our future generations as well as showcase the unparalleled contribution of Punjabis in the national independence movement.
Punjabis have always followed the teachings of the great Gurus who taught us to fight for right. Those who sacrificed their present to secure a better tomorrow for the nation had never died for any reward, but it is our prime duty to convey their message of selfless service for the motherland to our next generation.