The 26/11 martyrs’ memorial in Kalyan is crumbling and filthy. The spot itself is overrun by vagrants who hang clothes, throw rubbish and even sleep there. The memorial had been built in honour of five bravehearts who were killed in the 2008 terrorist attacks — Hemant Karkare, Ashok Kamte, Vijay Salaskar, Sandeep Unnikrishnan and Tukaram Ombale — but their families said such shabby memorials are an insult, not an honour.
While it had been installed in 2009 by the then Kalyan corporator, Asmita More, it is her husband, Arvind who is the corporator now. He admitted that the rundown monument has become a haunt for drug addicts and vandals.
Post 26/11, several such memorials have come up all over the city. While it is important that we honour the memory of those who died battling terror, it is equally important that we do this in the right way.
There is also the question of why the Kalyan memorial was built in the first place. Some of the families said the martyrs’ memorial was constructed for political points. If the government were to frame a law to ensure there is just one official memorial, instead of allowing all and sundry to build them, this will puncture any attempt to build memorials to seek publicity or for other selfish motives.
One also needs strict rules governing upkeep and maintenance, so as to respect the feelings of the families, who are naturally disgusted and disappointed at the shabby state of some of these monuments. Sometimes, we see plaques or statues being cleaned and polished just before an important day, an anniversary or even a visit to the site by a politician. On other days, these memorials sit in neglect. Consistency too, is key in maintenance.
Above all, there must be a sense of decorum and dignity when it comes to honouring our heroes. It is the least we can do for men who died so that we may live.