More than a century back on 13 April, 1919, thousands of Indians were killed when the British forces opened fire at an unarmed crowd of 5,000 at Jallianwala Bagh in Amritsar, Punjab.
Among those 5,000 people was Dr Sashti Charan Mukherji who dived under the dais at the Bagh managing to save himself.
“When the massacre took place, he was pained and agonised and approached the Indian National Congress to pass a resolution to acquire the land,” says grandson Sukumar.
Sashti Charan approached the INC with a petition to acquire the land to build a memorial for the martyrs. The petition was passed in 1920 and the land was priced at Rs 5.65 lakh.
He went door to door to collect the amount and bought the land in an open auction. A Trust was formed with the aim of creating a memorial at the massacre site.
In 1962, when Sashi Charan died, the reigns of the memorial were handed over to his family. Today, his grandson Sukumar Mukherji is in charge of it.
“The government and the Jallianwala Bagh Trust are trying their best to develop the memorial, but we still have a long way to go,” he says.
He lives with his family in the single-room quarters near the memorial. For several years, they have been paying high rent for a single room, but the family does not mind.
Although he has his own struggles, Sukumar doesn’t let them come in the way of the endeavour his grandfather set the family on. It is a legacy that he is proud to take forward.
On this day, the Mukherji family deserves a special mention for dedicating their lives to serve the memory of the martyrs.