Prez ends 20-year wait for martyr memorial inauguration

Nagpur, Feb 8 (PTI) A martyr memorial built by RashtriyaShivaji Mandal in the old-city area of Mahal was inauguratedby President Pratibha Patil ending a two-decade-long wait.

The three-storey museum built in honour of freedomfighters and heroes of the Independence struggle was formallyopened yesterday, after it was completed in early 1990 and waswaiting for the ceremony for want of official support for allthese years.

The memorial in eastern part of the city, was inauguratedearlier after an elaborate religious ceremony by GaribdasjiMaharaj of Pachmarhi following efforts by Rajya Sabha memberAvinash Pande. He had represented east Nagpur area in theState Assembly in 1985.

"I am closely associated with the group of freedomfighters who dreamt of building this memorial in memory ofmartyr Shankar Mahalle, a 17-year-old city boy who became theyoungest freedom fighter of the country after Mahatma Gandhigave a clarion call to ''Do or Die'' in 1942 asking Britishersto quit India," Pande said.

Rashtriya Shivaji Mandal took active part in theinstallation of statue of late martyr Shankar Mahalle.

According to Ishwar Choudhari, son of former city Mayorlate Sakharam Choudhary, President of the Mandal, the statueof Mahalle was unveiled in 1962 by Pt Jawaharlal Nehru. AfterNehru''s remark that a fitting memorial should be built for theunknown heroes of freedom movement, the Mandal decided tobuild an imposing memorial at the site.

"Mahalle was a local hero who was hanged on January 19,1943, in Nagpur Central jail along with five others whoattacked the Chitnavispra police station to loot its armoury.

The police station was burnt down and a policeman was killedin the attack, led by the youngest hero of the struggle whosefather also died fighting the British. Lives of such unknownfighters will be chronicled at the museum," said Choudhary.


Right now, oil paintings and portraits of all past presidents of the Indian National Congress since its inceptionhave been put up on display along with the freedom fighters.

Till date, Rs 35 lakh has been spent on building the museum.

Construction work of some part is still pending which has beensped up following the inauguration.

"Soon we will try to put up a light and sound showwhile a full-fledged library will also be added to enableresearch on the country''s freedom struggle," said Pande. PTIJOE DK DK

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