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Azad memorial rakes up differences btw Cong, BJP

Bhopal: Opposition Congress and ruling BJP government in state are locked in a battle over construction of a memorial for revolutionary freedom fighter Chandrashekhar Azad at his birth place – Bhabhra in Alirajpur district.

The state Congress Committee has even sought the Centre`s intervention in the matter and its president Kantilal Bhuria met Union Home Minister P Chidambaram on May 30 in this regard. Their ire is that with a `modern` memorial, people would not be able to connect with the place.

While Congress is clamouring to retain the hut (kutia) in which Azad was reportedly born, in its original form, the district administration went ahead with dismantling it on May 26, to pave way for a memorial to be constructed at the site.

In a letter to Chidambaram in this regard, Bhuria stressed that a strong message be convened in the country that Congress always stood for protecting and conserving the honour of great leaders.

Bhuria also informed Chidambaram that local people of Bhabhra observed a day-long bandh on May 29 demanding restoration of the hut in its original form. "It appears that the move to dismantle Azad`s hut was taken at the behest of ruling party leaders who have vested (commercial) interest in the place," Bhuria told PTI.

"By desecrating the memorial of Azad, the ruling BJP has dishonoured the great revolutionary leader," he said.

"People used to visit the place to pay their respects to Azad, but now with the dismantling of the very `hut`, the people would not be able to connect with it in the same way as they used to before the dismantling of the structure," Bhuria said.

The state government is constructing a grand memorial `Amar Shaheed Chandrashekhar Azad Mandir` with an estimated cost of Rs 1.16 crore where the hut is situated, Alirajpur Collector Rajendra Singh said.

Azad was born at this particular place, but the original house was in a dilapidated state following which the local gram panchayat constructed the present hut in 1970, the Collector said. "The hut in its original form will be re-created in the premises and state Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan will dedicate it to the public on July 23, the birth anniversary of the revolutionary leader," Singh said while denying allegations that the place would be used for carrying out any commercial activity. Meanwhile, Bhuria also wrote a letter to the chief minister expressing anguish over the dismantling of Azad`s hut.

In the letter, he mentioned about the "keen interest" allegedly being shown by former BJP MLA Madhosingh Dabar in the place, as, according to Bhuria, he wants to construct shops at the memorial. Bhuria also asked the chief minister to ensure that no commercial activity be allowed at the under-construction memorial of Azad.

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