‘Wrong’ Battle of Saragarhi photo catches AAP govt on wrong foot 

The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government in Punjab released an advertisement incorrectly labeling some British officers and soldiers as those belonging to the Sikh Regiment on Monday, facing fierce criticism from the Opposition.

Monday’s advertisement was released by the government to mark the 125th anniversary of the Battle of Saragarhi, which took place on this day in 1897 in the North West Frontier Province.

The advertisement released by the state’s Department of Public Relations incorrectly identified British officers and soldiers of the 20th Bengal (Punjab) Infantry as the soldiers of 36 Sikh Regiment. 

The advertisement also carried a photograph of the Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann, with the accompanying text that read, “Paying glowing tributes to the exemplary valour and unique sacrifice on the 125th anniversary of the historic battle.”

The advertisement caught the eyes of Congress leader Smit Singh and former Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh, whose party, Punjab Lok Congress, was quick the ridicule the AAP government for the faux pas.

“Punjab CM @BhagwantMann, who loves to put a big photo of himself in every advertisement doesn’t even know the difference between Sikh soldiers of 36 Sikh battalion who fought bravely in Saragarhi battle and the British officers & soldiers of 20th Bengal infantry. Shameful!” tweeted the Punjab Lok Congress.

Smit Singh also tweeted on similar lines saying, “ Govt of Punjab @AAPPunjab advert in honour of the 21 brave sikh soldiers on remembrance day of battle of Saragarhi is sadly not a picture of the valiant soldiers of 36 Sikh, who made the supreme sacrifice on 12 Sept 1897, but picture of Punjab-Bengal infantry regiment, Egypt 1882”.

Chandigarh-based writer on Defence issues, Mandeep Bajwa, also lambasted the state government in a tweet saying, “Punjab Govt’s tribute to the Saragarhi martyrs (today’s the 125th anniversary of the battle). But the group photograph used is that of British & Indian officers of the 20th Punjabis (now 6 Punjab in the Pak Army). Can’t the govt and their media outfits ever get anything right?”

Contacted, the Director Public Relations, Sonali Giri, said that the matter had been brought to her notice but added that the same photograph was being used to pay tributes to Saragarhi bravehearts for the past four years.

“It is only this year that someone has pointed out the mistake. Otherwise the same photograph was being used for last four years,” she said. Giri said that they were looking into the matter and accountability will be fixed.

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