Khatkar Kalan (Punjab): Thousands thronged the ancestral village of Bhagat Singh on Wednesday to mark the 80th martyrdom day of this freedom fighter.

As the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the opposition Congress held parallel rallies to mark the martyrdom day of one of the country's iconic freedom fighters, his Punjab village -- with canopies stretched  over 20 acres, facilities for drinking water and parking, and at least 10 community kitchens hosted thousands of people.

The Akali Dal shamiana, spread over nearly 20 acres, donned the party's colours - saffron, blue and yellow. Cries of 'Bole so nihal, 'Sat Sri Akal' resounded the air every now and then.

Popular singer Satinder Sartaj regaled the audience for several hours before the leaders took to the stage.

While speakers talked about the sacrifice of Bhagat Singh and his contribution to the country's freedom movement, most of the speeches were about political posturing by the leaders as the state warms up to Assembly elections scheduled for February-March next year.

'We have a lot to learn from the sacrifices made by revolutionaries like Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru. I am proud that they were born in the holy land of Punjab,' Akali Dal president Sukhbir Singh Badal, dressed in a light-blue shirt, grey trousers and black turban, told the audience.

At another nearby venue in this village, the opposition Congress held its own rally to mark the martyrdom anniversary of Bhagat Singh.

Amarinder Singh, the state Congress president, senior party leaders addressed the rally and recounted the sacrifice of Bhagat Singh and other freedom fighters.


(Agencies)