- Amarinder Singh said he does not know what has been removed
- Rahul Gandhi had called it an "insult to the martyrs of Jallianwala Bagh"
- Mr Singh's comment comes in the middle of a crisis within Punjab Congress
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Wednesday appeared to support the renovations at Jallianwala Bagh, for which the Centre has been facing a storm of criticism from opposition, historians and the civil society. The Congress government of Punjab has also been in the line of fire, with many questioning why it did not flag the construction that ended up renovating the site instead of preserving it. The renovations – including the laser show, the entrance with a bas relief replacing the stark corridor -- has only trivialised the sacrifice of more than a thousand men and women and the work should have been stopped at the outset, many have said.
"I don't know what has been removed. To me it looks very nice," Mr Singh told reporters, a stance markedly different from Rahul Gandhi, who called it an "insult to the martyrs of Jallianwala Bagh".
"Such an insult to the martyrs of Jallianwala Bagh can only be done by those who do not know the meaning of martyrdom. I am the son of a martyr - I will not tolerate the insult of martyrs at any cost. We are against this indecent cruelty," Mr Gandhi tweeted in Hindi earlier.
Mr Singh's comment comes in the middle of a crisis within the state Congress, where a section of leaders have rebelled against the Chief Minister's leadership and wants him removed the top post. While the Central leaders have so far refused to comply, they have also elevated Navjot Sidhu, the biggest challenger of Mr Singh, to the position of the chief of the party's state unit.
The crisis has been the biggest headline from the state, till furious comments about the Jallianwalla Bagh renovations flooded the social media.
Other opposition leaders had slammed the renovations, saying the new construction robbed the place of dignity, of the loss and horror of the day 102 years ago when British General Dyer opened fire on a peaceful protest.
Leaders like CPM's Sitaram Yechury hit hard, citing the history of the right wing. "Only those who stayed away from the epic freedom struggle can scandalise thus," tweeted Mr Yechury.
Shiv Sena MP Priyanka Chaturvedi wrote of "the pain... the loss (and) the tragedy" and said attempts to ''beautify' or 'modify' those memories "is doing great damage to our collective history".