Chief Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday laid the foundation stone of a memorial to Pandit Shyamji Krishna Verma, one of the earliest freedom fighters who hailed from Kutch, near Mandvi. This will be the first national-level memorial to the revolutionary.
Speaking on this occasion, Modi said that a society which forgets its history, its culture and its values, is doomed. He said that Shyamji was a multi-faceted personality - a scholar, journalist and revolutionary - who rubbed shoulders with his contemporaries in these fields in the world. He had purchased a three-storied building in London, which was named India House, and continued his fight for India's freedom from there.
"Fighting the tyrant British regime on its own land needed exceptional courage, but he did so and as a result produced revolutionaries like Veer Savarkar, Madanlal Dhingara, Madam Cama and Sardarsinh Rana." He said that India's great revolutionary, Bhagat Singh, was so much impressed with Verma's revolutionary movement from foreign soil that when he heard of Verma's death in Geneva, he paid glowing tributes to him from Lahore jail, where he was lodged waiting for his death punishment.
The foundation-laying of the memorial, however, has not come a day too soon. The chief minister had promised one way back in 2003. It may be recalled that Modi had specially gone to Geneva in Switzerland to bring home the urns containing the ashes of Shyamji and his wife Bhanumatiben. After a one month-long Veerajanjali yatra across the state, he had placed the urns at the revolutionary's 150-year-old ancestral home at Mandvi in southern Kutch. Addressing a big function on September 3, 2003, he had promised a national-level memorial to him.
Modi called for early completion of the memorial. "I want completion of this unique memorial by next year to coincide with the celebration of our swarnim Gujarat to mark the 50th anniversary of establishment of our state," he said.
Noted writer Vishnu Pandya, who had done much research work on Verma and is a member of the Shyamji Krishna Verma Memorial Society headed by chief minister Modi, said the spacious Mandvi memorial complex would house a library and research centre to study the contributions of Verma and other great revolutionaries to the country's freedom movement.