New Tilak memorial planned in Mumbai

August 2nd, 2011 - 7:11 pm ICT by IANS  

Mumbai, Aug 2 (IANS) Nearly 91 years after his death, freedom fighter Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak will get a memorial at Girgaum Chowpatty in south Mumbai, family members and activists said here Tuesday.

Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan Monday gave the nod for setting up a memorial dedicated to Tilak, said Prakash Silam, an invitee member of the Lokmanya Tilak Swarajya Bhoomi Smarak Samiti (LTSBSS).

The government would also put up a proposal soon to rename Girgaum Chowpatty as “Swarajya Bhoomi”, Silam said.

A family member of Tilak expressed pleasure over the government’s move to build the first full-fledged memorial to the legendary leader, freedom fighter, journalist, writer and historian. There are two existing Tilak memorials in Mumbai.

“The two small memorials in the city - at Girgaum Chowpatty and in a building near Crawford Market - are in a sorry state. The major constraint was shortage of funds to maintain and upgrade them,” said Tilak’s great-granddaughter Ujjwala Mehendale.

Ujjwala said that Tilak’s contribution to the country’s history, culture and freedom struggle was unparalleled and the memorial should reflect and depict his various facets as well as the historical events connected with him.

“Tilak’s thoughts, ideas, quotes like ‘Swaraj is my birthright, and I shall have it,’ his fiery editorials in ‘Kesari’ newspaper, his six-year jail sentence in Mandalay prison (Myanmar), his interactions with leaders and freedom fighters of his era must feature prominently in the proposed memorial. This will enable the new generation get a glimpse into his towering personality,” Ujjwala told IANS.

Silam said that the LTSBSS would make the memorial a non-political affair since Tilak’s legacy was a national treasure and did not belong to any single group or entity.

“We have urged the state government to ensure that the word ‘Swaraj’ is a part of the memorial since that was his greatest contribution to the nation,” Silam said.

Besides the two existing memorials in Mumbai, there are two Tilak memorials - one each in Pune and at his home in Ratnagiri district’s Chikhalgaon village. His home has been converted into a memorial with some of his personal belongings exhibited there.

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