Last month, on Saturday 20th February, myself and my wife Ruchira were pleased to meet with Dr Rabinder Sohil and his wife Mattie who travelled to Northampton from their home in Slough.
Dr Sohil visits the statue of Bradlaugh
The inscription read: ‘ India, Too, Chose Him Her Representative’
Dr Sohil is the current chairman of the ‘All India Congress Committee’ and ‘Freedom Movement of India’ which was historically based at the Bradlaugh Hall in Lahore until the partition of India in 1947 when Lahore became part of the newly created state of Pakistan.
As we know, Bradlaugh Hall in Lahore has been inaccessible for many years due to its poor condition, and there are grave concerns for the survival of the building.
Dr Sohil told us about the important cultural and political history of the hall, and the urgency of campaigning work to protect the hall from the threat of demolition.
He explained how in 1947 many members of the All India Congress Committee which owned the hall, and many people active in the life of the hall were forced to resettle in India. The Indian Government then set aside some land in the Union Territory of Chandigarth in the adjoining Indian Punjab – Dr Sohil’s home town – and The Bradlaugh Hall Committee planned to construct a new Bradlaugh Hall there. Unfortunately, the plans to build a new hall have never come to fruition, despite official backing and funding. Currently the government has re-possessed the land from the committee.
Consequently, Dr Sohil and his colleagues are campaigning in two fronts: for action by the Pakistan Government to save the Hall in Lahore with the support of the Indian government , and also for the Indian authorities to preserve the land set aside in Chandigarth for construction of the new hall.
He requests that the CBS considers helping and supporting this campaign, and that we approach our two local MP’s to gain their support in preserving this heritage. Dr Sohil is politically well connected at Westminster and in both India and Pakistan, and is confident that the support of the CBS and our MPs – Bradlaugh’s heirs – will help move things forward. On behalf of the CBS, I intend to arrange a meeting with our MP’s and Dr Sohil.
Chris Pounds (Secretary)