On a January afternoon, O.P. Sharma, 62, and two others were busy nailing a framed painting of a young man with twirled moustache on a white wall, which forms one side of the long corridor that runs along the Delhi Assembly building. It was a portrait of Shaheed Bhagat Singh.
Along with Shaheed Bhagat Singh, Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, Tipu Sultan and Rani Chennamma are among the 70 famous freedom movement leaders and historical personalities whose portraits — one for each Delhi Assembly constituency — are set to adorn the Assembly walls. These will be inaugurated on January 26.
Each portrait, one-and-a-half feet wide and two-and-a-half feet long and framed in black, are of martyrs who fought for the country from 1760 to 1947.
Guru Darshan Singh Binkal, the artist behind the paintings, told IANS that for the past 27 years he has been painting portraits of martyrs for one reason: “Martyrs should live on.“
“I have been painting many martyrs who are unknown to most people,” said the 52-year-old, who uses oil colours and canvas as his medium.
Binkal said he takes around three days to complete one portrait, but he does not take money for it, except for what is needed to buy colours and canvas.
“I do other work to earn a living,” said Binkal, who has been painting since his school days.
Sharma and Binkal belong to the Shaheed Smriti Chetna Samiti, an organisation working to spread awareness about martyrs who gave their lives for the country’s freedom.
“We have only one goal — to instil patriotism in the minds of people,” Prem Kumar Shukla, General Secretary of the organisation, told IANS.
At a corner of SSCS’ office, about 30 km from the Assembly and up a narrow staircase, was a metre-long metal box.
One of the helpers opened the box to reveal dozens of other paintings, many of which were of lesser-known freedom fighters.
“People are forgetting the freedom fighters and their sacrifice. They only know the fake heroes,” Shukla said.
He said that children should know about them so that they will be “inspired to do something like that for the nation”.
The organisation, started by retired schoolteacher Ravi Chandra Gupta in 1997, conducts exhibitions of paintings of martyrs across the country.
“Even the Indian government does not have as much data as we have on martyrs,” Shukla said.
He said that through exhibitions and other means, they have reached about 10 million people across the country.
At the Assembly, Sharma and others were busy with their work again: Under each portrait, a short biography of the martyr was being nailed to the wall.
“We have not talked anything about money. If they give us something, we will take it. We do not do it for money,” Sharma said about their work at the Assembly. “We just want people to remember the martyrs.”
By : Nikhil M. Babu
(Nikhil M. Babu can be reached at [email protected] )