As per plans, “free guides” will also be posted near this museum from Tuesday, which marks Gandhi Jayanti, to direct tourists towards the “redone” INA war memorial museum in adjoining Salimgarh Fort.
The Swatantra Sangram Museum was opened to the public on October 2, 1995 — besides photographs, it houses diarmos (life-size representations) of the Jallianwala Bagh firing and the Dandi March. Besides the new gallery on the Mahatma, a separate section would also be built on countries that attained freedom after India’s independence as part of a larger expansion plan, said Dr D V Sharma, superintending archaeologist, ASI-Delhi Circle.
The ultimate goal, officials said, is to move the museum from its current premises to a larger adjoining building in which the British tried Indian National Army freedom fighters for treason in 1945.
“Since this is a historic year we are procuring funds for the revamp of these museums; they focus specifically on the freedom movement,” Sharma said. “We will also procure more documents for the new galleries, apart from providing better lighting, paneling, and displays for existing structures.”
From Tuesday, the ASI would also lay a better route map for Salimgarh Fort, which houses the INA memorial museum, and begin promoting the Red Fort complex as a “museum unit”. As first reported in Newsline, the museum in Salimgarh Fort would now be opened to the public following a request by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
Though work is still not complete in the museum, tourists are being encouraged to visit the adjoining museum, ASI officials said. “Tourists who come to Red Fort do not normally visit Salimgarh, for it is a little far off,” the official said. “To promote the museum, we will now post free guides who will tell people about the museum and escort them.”
Museum to move in ‘correct building’
The ASI had earlier invited Colonel Gurbaksh Dhillon, one of the heroes of the Indian National Army, to identify the exact building in Red Fort where the 1945 trial was held. But he pointed to a “wrong” building at first go, a senior ASI official said. “He identified the building where the museum is housed now, but later said he had mistakenly identified it. He is aged, and identified the correct building only after the museum was ready.”
The “correct building” is now being revamped and repaired, and the expanded museum will be shifted there.