The Public Sculptures of Lahore – the Raj revisited
Sheraz from Islamabad has contributed this amazing account of Lahore’s eclectic past. The influence of the British rulers resulted in erection of sculptures at public places, not an uncommon practice in the colonies. Most of these relics of the past are no more. Some have been conserved while others were removed.
“The statue of Lala Lajpat Rai (1865-1928), who, while leading a procession with Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya to demonstrate against the Simon Commission, faced brutal baton charge and died of fatal injuries on November 17, 1928, was somewhere in the vicinity of Kim’s Gun or zamazama – the famous cannon on the Mall, Lahore. This statue is no more there.
Another statue in this area was of Sir Ganga Ram, who gave many beautiful landmarks to the city of Lahore. What happened to this statue has been narrated by Saadat Hassan Manto, the celebrated Urdu short story writer, in one of his short stories on the frenzy of communal riots of 1947. Manto writes that an inflamed mob in Lahore, after attacking a Hindu mohalla, turned to attacking the statue of Sir Ganga Ram, the Hindu philanthropist. They first pelted the statue with stones; then smothered its face with coal tar. Then a man made a garland of old shoes climbed up to put it round the neck of the statue. The police arrived and opened fire. Among the injured were the fellow with the garland of old shoes. As he fell, the mob shouted: â€œLet us rush him to Sir Ganga Ram Hospital.â€
The statue of Sir John Lawrence, the first Governor of the Punjab and later the Governor General of British India (1864-69), holding a sword in one and pen in the other hand, was in front of the Lahore High Court. This statue, created by Sir Joseph Boehme, was inaugurated sometime in 1887. On the base of this statue was inscribed Will you be governed by the pen or sword?
During 1920s, there was an agitation for the removal of this statue, which the Lahoris considered a disgrace to the Punjab. Now, this statue probably stands in Foyle College (now Foyle and Londonderry College) with a damaged sword in one hand, damaged during an agitation in Lahore. Further, one statue of Lawrence stands in Waterloo Place in central London and another in Calcutta.
The statue of Professor Alfred Woolner, professor of Sanskrit, and vice-chancellor of Punjab University (1928 and 1936) still stands in Lahore outside the University of the Punjab on the Mall, Lahore.
The statue of Queen Victoria at the Charing Cross, installed in 1902, is in the Lahore Museum now.
And finally there was a sculpture of King Edward (VII) riding a horse. This statue had been erected in front of the front of the King Edward Medical college, but it is no more there.
Postscript: With multiple references to John Lawrence above,Â I think of my beloved Lawrence Gardens in Lahore