|Delhi Durbar. Col Dyer. wikipedia. com|
|Russian proverb. quotes|
|Amritsar massacre April 1919, storyboardthat.com|
Upon his return to Britain in 1920, the Dyers had lived in a dairy farm near Ashton Keynes in Wiltshire with their son Geoff and had a few friends and travzeled a little. Because of the censor on his return to Britain his action - the murderous one, was applauded by well-known British people. It wasn’t just the House of Lords that called Dyer a hero, the unfortunate fact was the famous author and jungle story writer Rudyard Kipling was in full praise of Dyer. The Hunter Commission (headed by Lord Hunter) came down heavily on Dyer, but was not highly critical of of him, It held back from outright censure. On the morning of July 8, 1920, the debate opened in the House of Commons where Winston Churchill, Secretary of State for War called Dyer’s actions “monstrous”.
Following the debate, a section of unscrupulous British people who had connection with the British Raj, a group of British ladies and a local conservative Newspaper Morning Post formed a Trust to collect funds to be awarded to Dyer for his killing spree in the Bagh (in April,1919) in retaliation against the Indians who severely assaulted a British woman associated with a mission school in Amritsar. People from all walks of life, including clergy, the Duke of Westminster and others made contributions. For the British newspaper it provided an opportunity to increase its popularity. If their publicity bonanza went well, it would improve their circulation; purely it was a self-centered motive.
When the real picture of the Punjab tragedy leaked out of India by some honest British journalists with gory details, the public and the politicians were appalled by the enormity of the crime committed under Dyer's command with blessing from Michael O'Dwyer, Governor of Punjab. Dyer was highly criticized in India and across the globe. The Punjab tragedy triggered the downhill fall of the British rule in India with the death bell having been tolled by Gen. Reginald Dyer and his cronies. It put the freedom movement at a fast mode.
Dyer never for once doubted his actions right from the day of his role in the Bagh and always maintained his “intention to fire if necessary”. Yet, he changed his version of the story several times. He was not remorseful and stuck to his gun by saying he did his duty as a soldier to save the British Empire from the fall (meaning repeat of 1857 mass Indian rebellion). In the House of Lords, the debate went in favor of Dyer, pointing out that in the face of a rebellious crowd (meaning the rioting occurred a few days prior to the tragedy) Dyer had merely done his job and suggested that he should be honored by the Government rather than compulsorily retired.
|Dyer's last days.Sommerset Cottage,deccanchronicle.com|
On the question of cash award, the Dyers refused to accept ii (28,000.00 pounds) proposed by the newspaper at a public function. Annie might have thought it was detrimental to his mental well-being and it was too early to accept it. Dyer spent the last days in the Somerset cottage. Now, diagnosed with a heart disease "arteriosclerosis", any bout of excitement or slight provocation meant it would lead to stroke or, perhaps, hear-attack. Dyer spent his last days quietly away from public scrutiny. One would see him sitting out in the garden. A stroke earlier had left him speechless. His self-doubt stayed with him till the end - July 23, 1927. The man who erased the precious lives of more than 1000 Indians in a matter of 15 minutes took rest in the Church graveyard after a painful life in the last phase of his life.
Dyer had two funerals - one was held at his Parish church - All Saint's Church in Long Ashton, less than a mile from his cottage. The second being a military funeral held at St Martin's-in the-Fields in London. Soon after this funeral service, his body was cremated in Golders Green in London. Earlier, his body lay in the Guards Chapel at Wellington Barracks and was taken in procession through London to a grand funeral service at St Martin-in-the-Fields (probably with the connivance of the reactionary Home Secretary Sir William Johnson-Hicks).
|Dyer's military funeral at St Martin's,London. deccanchronicle.com|
Edwin Montague, the Secretary of State for India denied Dyer's honorary rank of Brigadier-General. though Churchill was against that move. Montague knew well this would further cause uproar among the already angered Indian political leaders across the continent. So,Dyer remained just a Colonel for the rest of his life. As of to-day the British government has not apologized to the Indian people for their past lapses during the tragic event at the Bagh in 1919. Their long silence shows their lack of moral turpitude and scant respect for the innocent people who died in pain for no reason whatsoever. In this regard, the Britain's face remains soiled, particularly the the proposal to award Dyer with a cheque (28,000. 00 pounds). This nauseating incident was amounted to rubbing the salt on the wounded Indian leaders and the natives in the later years. A simple apology or sorry will suffice.