Martyrs of statehood movement remembered

Gujarat celebrated the golden jubilee of the statehood with enthusiasm on Saturday. Chief Minister Narendra Modi led the people in expressing their gratitude to the martyrs of the Mahagujarat movement whose supreme sacrifices resulted in the creation of the State on this day 50 years ago.

The celebrations began with Mr. Modi, the former Deputy Prime Minister and MP from Gujarat L.K. Advani, Speaker of the State Assembly Ashok Bhatt, and other leaders paying floral tributes at the statue of Indulal Yagnik, a former MP, who had led the movement in the late fifties demanding a separate state out of the erstwhile Bombay state.

The leaders later paid tributes at the Shahid Smarak, the memorial erected at Lal Darwaja in the heart of Ahmedabad where a number of agitators were killed in police firing during the movement.

Tributes to Gandhi

Later joined by Governor Kamla Beniwal, Mr. Modi and others paid tributes to Mahatma Gandhi at Hriday-Kunj, the dwelling unit where the father of the nation lived during his stay at the Sabarmati Gandhi Ashram.

Family members of the two dozen martyrs of the State movement were honoured by the government on the occasion.

The Chief Minister administered “golden pledges” to the youth, giving a commitment to do everything possible for the betterment of the State and the nation. Tributes were also paid at the statue in Gandhinagar of Ravishankar Maharaj, the sarvodaya leader, who had inaugurated the new State at a simple ceremony held at the Sabarmati Gandhi Ashram.

Mr. Modi, Mr. Advani and others then laid the foundation stone for the proposed “Mahatma Mandir,” a novel memorial on the father of the nation to be constructed here at an estimated cost of Rs. 100 crore. “This edifice will reflect Gandhiji's life and philosophy on the one hand and the prosperity of Gujarat on the other,” Mr. Modi said.

The inaugural celebrations which actually had begun on Friday evening with “Jaynaad” when the Chief Minister, Mr. Advani and others rung huge bells and led the group of drum-beaters to herald the advent of the golden jubilee, ended with a multi-cultural function at the sprawling Sardar Patel stadium in Ahmedabad.

Rallies and marches were organised in various district and taluka headquarters, municipal corporation offices and other centres to celebrate the day. The government and the panchayat buildings were illuminated with bright lights and in many places fire crackers were burst to celebrate the golden jubilee.

The State Congress, however, stayed away from the “mindless expensive” celebrations and held a parallel sammelan in Gandhinagar to mark the golden jubilee of the State and 125 years of the Congress party.

Besides the surviving former Congress Chief Ministers, Madhavsinh Solanki, Shankarsinh Waghela and Dillip Parikh, the sammelan was also attended by the Chief Ministers of Delhi, Haryana, and Goa — Sheila Dikshit, Bhupendra Singh Hooda and Digambar Kamath.

The political adviser to Congress president Sonia Gandhi, Ahmed Patel, AICC secretary Rajiv Shukla, four Union Ministers and other leaders also participated.