Date:07/09/2003 URL: http://www.thehindu.com/2003/09/07/stories/2003090701152000.htm
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Southern States - Andhra Pradesh

Tower of harmony in Guntur

By A. Saye Sekhar



The Jinnah Tower in Guntur

GUNTUR SEPT. 6. "Ebony and ivory live together in perfect harmony, side by side on my piano keyboard, Oh Lord, why don't we? We all know that people are the same wherever we go..," Stevie Wonder, the African-American, and Paul McCartney, the white Briton, sang in tandem.

Taking off on the theme, what do the cities of Chicago, in the United States, and Guntur, in coastal Andhra Pradesh, have in common? The main thoroughfare in Devon Avenue, dominated by Indian shopping, was christened Gandhi Marg by the Chicago City Council. And an extension of Gandhi Marg where a number of Pakistani stores are located is named Mohammed Ali Jinnah Road. Here in Guntur, Mahatma Gandhi Road, the main artery of the city, leads to the Jinnah Tower.

Guntur has a memorial for Pakistan's Father of the Nation, a tower built in Mohammed Ali Jinnah's honour in the heart of town. This impressive heritage structure has been a city landmark.

About its origins, one story is that Judaliyaquat Ali Khan, a representative of Jinnah, visited Guntur in the pre-Independence era. Khan was felicitated by Lal Jan Basha, the grandfather of the present Telugu Desam Party Rajya Sabha member, S.M. Lal Jan Basha, and he got a tower built in the honour of the dapper Muslim League leader.

According to another narrative, two Municipal Chairmen, Nadimpalli Narasimha Rao and Tellakula Jalaiah, were responsible during their respective terms of office for the construction of the tower — as a symbol of peace and harmony.

These conflicting versions about who got the tower built, however, are not quite pertinent here.

The harrowing experiences of Partition and subsequent cross-border wars and other manner of trouble have never disturbed peace and tranquillity in Guntur.

Jinnah Tower continues to stand tall as a beacon of harmony here.

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