Descendant of freedom fighter demands name change of Captain Simpson Park

The controversy continues over the invitation to the inauguration of the park

Three days after a British era pond was renovated into a park in Hazaribagh, another controversy erupted over it. This time, questions were raised about the name of the park behind Captain Simpson.

Sachidanand Pandey, who is a descendant of freedom fighter Jai Mangal Pandey, expressed dismay at Captain Simpson’s park name and asked for his name to be removed. He said he was not against the park but asked why Simpson was chosen when the area had so many freedom fighters.

Sachidanand Pandey, the descendant of freedom fighter Jai Mangal Pandey.

Captain Simpson was behind the hanging of 150 freedom fighters, including Jai Mangal Pandey and Nadir Ali Khan, in the Chatra district on October 4, 1857. Pandey and Khan had led a movement against the British East India Company. Orientalists in Chatra where they killed 56 British Army soldiers. soldiers, including a few senior officials, Sachidanand said, adding that the act had aroused feelings of fear within the British government.

“It’s beyond my imagination why Simpson received so much respect for giving his name to a park,” said Pandey.

He said the name of the park after Jai Mangal Pandey would be a great tribute to the freedom fighter. “If anyone objects to the name of this park being kept after Jai Mangal Pandey, name it after someone else but not Simpson,” he added.

Captain Simpson was the deputy commissioner for the area and had ordered the construction of the pond. Over time, the pond, which faces the captain’s residence, has not been properly maintained and has lost its glory due to neglect. It had turned into a dumping ground and surrounded by illegal encroachments. In January 2019, Jadhav launched a beautification project and renovated it into a park, which cost around Rs 1.5 crore.

The park was jointly inaugurated Sunday evening by three deputies.

A view of Captain Simpson Park in Hazaribagh

Another row surrounded the inauguration after various lawmakers and political party leaders pointed their guns at Jadhav for not inviting them to the opening.

A day earlier, Barhi MP Uma Shankar Akela had objected to why two former MPs, namely Manoj Kumar Yadav and Janki Prasad Yadav, had been invited to the ceremony, but not her and other sitting deputies.

“I was not invited as well as Amba Prasad of Congress, who is the MP for Barkagaon, which is highly reprehensible,” he said, adding that it was in violation of protocol and that he would raise this issue in the Assembly.

Barkagaon congressional lawmaker Amba Prasad on Wednesday said the MLA fund can only be used in the area under the jurisdiction of the relevant lawmaker. “So under what circumstances, the funds of two former deputies were used in the construction of this park, which is not under their respective domains”, she asked.

Prasad added that if BJP MPs were so desperate to have a park here, they would have to pay out of their own pockets. She further announced that she would donate Rs.1 lakh of her income as a legislator for the proper maintenance of the park.

Prasad and Akela are angry that they were not invited to the dedication ceremony. However, Jadhav maintained for his part that these deputies, who had given funds for the construction of the park, had been invited. Even two former MPs were invited, who had also contributed to the development of the park before losing their seats in the legislative elections in December 2019.

Hazaribagh Sadar Manish Jaiswal’s BJP MP gave his backing to the administration, saying MPs who helped build the park were invited to the inauguration. “There was nothing wrong with it,” Jaiswal said.

He added that the park was a gift to the city, especially during the coronavirus pandemic. Hazaribagh Sadar suggested Congress leaders focus on why they gravely failed to undertake relief work for the needy during the lockdown.

Thelma J. Longworth

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