India did not get freed from the British yoke overnight. In the course of long-drawn India's sustained struggle for freedom, the British never gave in that easily and stuck to their gun firmly. When numerous great leaders joined the struggle under Gandhiji, Tilak Gokhale, et al, the freedom movement gained an appreciable momentum and prominence. It saw numerous ups and downs while surging ahead, and patiently broke the road blocks set by the British at every stage. Innumerable people, running into a million plus lost their lives as a result of massacres, police-firings and natural calamities like famine, artificially created by the harsh British administration, in particular, under Churchill in the early 1940s. At last, the British gave freedom to the Indian subcontinent in August, 1947 not as a 'United India', but a 'Divided India' - India and Pakistan, the latter based on religion. Both had to start their journeys from the scratch. The Jallianwalla Bagh massacre (April, 1919) tore the veil of the British and exposed their perplexing ugliness. It is symbolic of British barbarity, hypocrisy and Machiavellianism.
On April 10, 1919, there was a protest demanding the release of two popular leaders of freedom fighters at the residence of the Deputy Commissioner of Amritsar, in Punjab, NW India.
A military picket shot at the demonstrating crowd, killed several protesters and this had set off a series of violent events - banks and other government buildings, the Town Hall, the railway station, etc., were attacked and set on fire. The violent crowd became unruly and hell-bent as time went by. On April,11 Ms Marcella Sherwood, an English missionary, was caught unawares by a rioting mob, pulled to the ground beaten and left for dead. The local commander Brig. Gen. Dyer got angry over what had happened to the British lady missionary. He also authorized the indiscriminate, public whipping of locals who came within lathi length of British policemen.
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In Amritsar on April 13, 1919 - Baisakhi day, an important sikh festival, was being celebrated. A meeting consisting mostly of Baishakhi pilgrims began as scheduled at 4:30 PM despite a curfew, peacefully protesting against British government's denial of giving freedom to Indians in return for participating in world war I as promised before and the enforcement of the harsh and repressive Rowlatt Act to put down the unrest in many parts of India. At the peaceful meeting at the Bagh, people condemned the British establishment for arresting Gandhi and other prominent freedom fighters. Let it be borne in mind, these people were not armed; nor did they have any secret plan to indulge in violent protest.
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Above image: From the well in the bagh image than 100 dead bodies were pulled out. They were unarmed and innocent. Cause of death: stampede. Jallianwalla Bagh massacre (1919), Punjab, India.
As of now, no reparation or an expression of sorry from the British government.-----
Gen. Reginald Rex Dyer arrived with a group of sixty-five Gurkha and twenty-five Baluchi soldiers into the Bagh (a walled garden). Fifty of them were armed with .303 Lee-Enfield bolt-action rifles. Dyer had also brought two armoured cars armed with machine guns; however, the vehicles were left outside, as they were unable to enter the Bagh through the narrow entrance. The Jallianwala Bagh was surrounded on all sides by houses and buildings and had a few narrow entrances. Most of them were kept permanently locked. The wide main entrance was, guarded heavily by the troops backed by the armoured vehicles. There were 10,000 to 15,000 people in the crowd including elderly women and children in the garden, which was almost like a box canyon - one way in, same way out.
|Jallianwalla Baghmassacre(1919). blog.abhinavagarwal.net |
|Eternal flame,Jallianwalla Bagh massacre,Punjab,India. en.wikipedia.org|
The figures released by the British government were 370 dead and 1200 wounded. Other sources placed the dead alone at more than 1000 and it stunned the entire nation" resulting in a "wrenching loss of faith" of the general public in the intentions of Britain. World over, the British image took a severe beating.
|The Jallianwala Bagh - 1919. news punjab|
|Bullet holes,Jallianwalla Bagh massacre(1919) en.wikipedia.org|
|Times of India|
Brig.General Reginald Rex Dyer's barbaric act had trespassed all norms of military rules and above all human decency and every British citizen had to hang his face in shame. There was and there is no reparation or redemption for this worst heinous crime either from the Royal family nor from the British government under various parties in the past. Gen. Dyer later described his actions as “my duty, a very horrible duty” and that he fired to restore order and send a message that revolt would not be tolerated.
|Attenborough's1983 movie ''Gandhi,'' Jallianwalla Bagh killings. |
"Amritsar soon become enshrined in Indian national myth as a moment of unparalleled barbarity. Dyer had fired into a gentle and unarmed crowd of men, women and children from a combination of racism, aggression and revenge, so it was said, symptomatic of the bankruptcy of imperial rule"
.......... Dr Nick Lloyd (The Telegraph 03 Jan 2014
Alfred Draper, The Massacre that Ended the Raj, London, 1981
Ian Duncan Colvin, The life of General Dyer, Edinburgh, London : W. Blackwood & Sons Ltd, 1929
Nigel Collett, The Butcher of Amritsar: General Reginald Dyer, London: Hambledon & London, 2005 ISBN 1-85285-457-X
Moreman, T R (2004). "‘Dyer, Reginald Edward Harry (1864–1927)’" (subscription required). Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/32947. Retrieved 7 January 2008.
Derek Sayer, "British Reaction to the Amritsar Massacre 1919–1920," Past & Present, May 1991, Issue 131, pp 130–164
Brain Bond, "Amritsar 1919," History Today, Sept 1963, Vol. 13 Issue 10, pp 666–676
(re-modified Sept. 09, 2016)