Martyr Bhagat Singh`s ancestral village wears modern look

Khatkar Kalan is some 100 kms from Chandigarh on the Chandigarh-Pathankot highway.

Chandigarh: Freedom fighter Bhagat Singh`s ancestral village in Punjab wears a modern look with concrete roads, street lights, well-designed parks and palatial bungalows.

Thanks to the government`s efforts to develop the freedom fighter`s ancestral village -- Khatkar Kalan in Nawan Shahr district -- it has become a modern township with various amenities, its Sarpanch Sukhwinder Singh says.

Khatkar Kalan is some 100 kms from Chandigarh on the Chandigarh-Pathankot highway.

The village resembles a modern township, with no sign of dingy streets or dusty roads, usually found in most rural parts of the country.

However, over half of the village`s population has migrated to foreign lands with their huge bungalows being looked after by caretakers.

The village has a population of roughly 3,000 and over 50 palatial bungalows dot the township.

The freedom fighter`s ancestral house touches a palatial bungalow.

Aged chowkidar Hardeep Singh, who is caretaker of one of the bungalows, says he is looking after the house for past several years. "The owners come here once in some six years...They stay here for brief period and leave."

The village Sarpanch, Sukhwinder Singh, says, "Those who have left hardly think of development back home in the village." The Sarpanch says his own family had migrated abroad long time back.

"The money sent from abroad by NRIs back home has given a total face-lift to the village," he says.

Nawan Shahr, which has been renamed as Shaheed Bhagat Singh Nagar by the Punjab government, is just 10 kms from Khatkar Kalan village. However, village youths rue the fact that the village does not have a playground.

"Agreed that the village has all basic amenities in it, however, what is missing is a playground," Daljeet, a youth in the village, says.

It is interesting to note that Nawan Shahr falls in Doaba region of Punjab which is famous for people migrating to foreign lands.

Abhey Singh Sandhu, nephew of Bhagat Singh, says his only wish is that the Centre`s Rs 17 crore grant for setting up a modern museum in the village must be properly utilised.

The Centre had given the grant in 2008 for constructing state-of-the-art museum depicting Bhagat`s life.

Sandhu says once the new museum is constructed, the government should not impose entry fee for the visitors.

Bhagat`s house, his large-scale statue and museum in the village are maintained by the Punjab government.

Sandhu, who is settled in Mohali, says "Only very old people stay in the village. One can find labourers putting up in the village as development keeps taking place and houses are constructed on large scale."

A construction worker in the village says, "Every second day, shooting of Punjabi films in bungalows take place in the village."

The village has a solar power plant inaugurated by then president APJ Abdul Kalam.

One of the palatial bungalows has a huge statue of Bhagat Singh on its top floor, trying to keep legacy of the freedom fighter alive.