Remembering lives: Ahmedabad's Memorial to a sparrow martyr in Dhal Ni Pol

Remembering lives: Ahmedabad's Memorial to a sparrow martyr in Dhal Ni Pol

A sparrow, among humans, lost its life during the riots of Navnirman movement, and this is how the people of Ahmedabad paid their heartfelt tribute.

While countless memorials honor human sacrifices during the fight for equality, freedom and rights, a unique memorial in Ahmedabad tells the tale of an unexpected martyr—a sparrow that lost its life in the Navnirman movement riots.

Ahmedabad's reverence for a lost sparrow

Ahmedabad has always been a city of bird lovers. With over 250 Chabutra (birdfeeders) dotting its landscape, our ancient city has consistently displayed its care for these fellow creatures. But surpassing it all, a memorial dedicated to a sparrow, a casualty of rioting, stands as a poignant testament—a reminder that all lives, even the tiniest sparrows, hold intrinsic value.

The story dates back to 1974, a year of significant unrest. The Navnirman movement, also known as Roti Ramkhan, emerged as a socio-political uprising in Gujarat, led by students and middle-class individuals protesting economic crisis and corruption in public life.

On March 2nd, 1974, the movement culminated in a riot, with the police resorting to indiscriminate firing, resulting in multiple fatalities.

All lives matter

Students’ protest in Ahmedabad, 1974
Students’ protest in Ahmedabad, 1974

Among the casualties was a little sparrow. In most cases, such a loss might have faded from memory over time. Yet, Amdavadis chose a different path. They obtained special permission to give the sparrow a dignified burial, holding a funeral procession to honor its life. Later, a memorial plaque was erected in Dhal Ni Pol, Astodiya, near the location where the bird met its fate. Today, this plaque stands as a poignant part of local history—a tribute to a fellow martyr.

This gesture not only showcases people's compassion for all living beings but also highlights how human-initiated riots can claim the lives of innocent creatures. It emphasizes that every small bird or animal that perishes matters and shall be remembered.

Today, the street's residents continue to feed the birds and maintain an oil lamp at the spot, perpetuating the spirit of love and remembrance.

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