Houses lost, rush to save Bhagat lane

Death OrderDeath Order of Bhagat Singh.

A six-foot-wide lane, once flanked on each side by six houses and with gates at both ends, has suddenly qualified for Punjab’s heritage list.Some 76 years after freedom fighters Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev were hanged, the cluster of 12 houses — Baara Makaan — where the trio put up after shooting Lahore ASP J.P. Saunders is being considered for preservation.

Located in Amritsar’s Islamabad locality, Baara Makaan was once the haven of freedom fighters on the run from the British. Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose made a brief stopover there while making his way to Germany from Calcutta.

Unfortunately, none of the 12 houses now exists in its original form. Some have been razed and new buildings have come up; others have undergone large-scale renovation and transformation.

The only remnants of history that are partially intact are the two gates. Even the well from which the trio fetched water during their stay in fellow freedom fighter Sohan Singh’s house has been filled up and a house built over it.
(Top) The death warrant of Bhagat Singh, (below) the compliance report

It is these gates that the state is proposing to preserve to mark Bhagat Singh’s birth centenary year that is being celebrated with much fanfare.

Although the Baara Makaan area has undergone a makeover, lanes parallel to it have such names as Gandhi Lane, Jawahar Gali, Tilak Gali and Lajpat Gali.

The cluster also housed the headquarters of an underground monthly Punjabi magazine, Kirti. Bhagat Singh was on the editorial board for three months.

Once a tiny village full of orchards and green fields, Amritsar’s Islamabad is now one of the t densely populated localities in the city crowded with houses and modern buildings.

Punjab has planned year-long celebrations for Bhagat Singh’s birth centenary. Seminars and rallies have been organised and youths carrying torches have been marching in procession from his ancestral homes in Khatkarkalan in Nawanshahr and Narli in Tarn Taran.

Debates, painting competitions and a kavi darbar are also being organised. Amritsar has been specially illuminated to keep alive his legacy.

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