Duleep Singh memorial victim of royal neglect
Jalandhar/Bassian (Raikot): Bassian Kothi, the mansion where 11-year-old Sikh ruler Maharaja Duleep Singh spent a night on December 31, 1849, is disintegrating and crying for attention of the Punjab Government.Bassian Kothi was said to have been built around 1800. It had served as an ammunition supply depot of the erstwhile British Military Division based in Ferozepur before it assumed historical importance due to the one-night stay of Duleep Singh in it in the winter of 1849. The building was also said to have doubled as a “torture centre” for the Punjab Police during the decade-long turmoil in the state.After annexing Punjab, the British regime had arrested Maharaja Duleep Singh from his kingdom in Lahore on December 21, 1849, and had exiled him in the erstwhile United Provinces (now known as Uttar Pradesh).In their bid to avoid mutiny by native people, the British had decided to move the “Maharaja” slowly out of the state and deliberately took a long alternative route to Fatehgarh by avoiding the Grand Trunk Road. After spending one night here in Bassian, the young Maharaja and his entourage had left on January 1, 1849, for Fatehgarh, where he was kept in captivity.The Bassian Kothi had been renovated and converted into Maharaja Duleep Singh memorial by the Punjab Government in 2015. The restoration work of the 13-acre property was completed by Indian National Trust and Cultural Heritage (INTACH).The memorial building housed replicas of Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s throne, a huge sword, a royal chair, a dress, a diamond necklace and pictures showcasing various aspects of his life.The memorial seems to have fallen on bad days now apparently due to the lack of attention of the authorities.The walls of all three halls have developed cracks. The paint and plaster is falling apart at a number of places. Some of the focus lights installed for highlighting replicas of various artefacts of the Sikh Raj are not working and so are a number of fans.The water pumping motor installed there cannot cater to the needs of lawns and an unkempt herbal garden situated on the huge 13-acre property. An employee said the historical place was loosing its sheen for want of funds and attention of the higher authorities.