|Lt. Gov. of Punjab, British India Sir Michael O’Dwyer timesofindia.indiatimes.com|
If we turn the faded pages of the history of India's freedom struggle against the British colonial rule, and go through several painful and horrible events, we will be dismayed and perturbed by their wickedness and inhumanity. Such unhappy and deplorable incidents will never get off our mind because they were committed or instigated by the colonial rulers with impunity, not to speak of their glee in open discrimination. The short lived Vellore rebellion (10 July 1806) of north Tamil Nadu, the great rebellion of 1857-58 waged mostly in the northern states, the worst Bengal famine of 1943 and the callous attitude of Britain's famous India-baiter and conservative politician PM Sir Winston Churchill who wantonly diverted the Australian ships laden with food grains anchored at Calcutta harbor to Europe when million of Bengalis were starving to death during that period, are a few indelible incidents that have become important chapters in Indian history.
|the site of massacre, April, 1919, Jallianwala Bagh, Amtitsar.bookedforlife.in|
|Brig. Gen. Reginald Dyer of British India, en.wikipedia.com|
Above image: Reginald Edward Harry Dyer, (born October 9, 1864, Murree, India - died July 23, 1927, Long Ashton, near Bristol, England), British general remembered for his sickening role in the Massacre of Amritsar in India, in 1919. Commissioned in the West Surrey Regiment in 1885 and subsequently transferred to the Indian Army, he campaigned in Burma (Myanmar) in 1886–87 and took part in a blockade of Waziristan (now in Pakistan) in 1901–02. During World War I (1914–18) he was in charge of the Eastern Persian cordon, the main aim of his posting was to prevent German crossings into Afghanistan. He was brigade commander at Jalandhar in Punjab where there were many riots and protests against oppressive British rule...................................
The British military officer who carried out the most gruesome massacre in April 1919 was General Reginald Dyer. Well planned before the incident, he had the gates of the bagh, a huge garden in the town of Amritsar, closed except one gate. He had positioned the troops with high-power guns near the gate had them shot at the fleeing crowd through the gate. The shooting by the troops continued until the ammunition supply ran out and it is said 1650 rounds had been fired on the delirious crowd over a short period of just 10 minutes. Unattended by any medical aid or ambulance services, countless people got severely injured and Gen. Dyer had the victims bleed to face painful death.
|Jallianwala Bagh, Punjab state, Indiamaps-india.com|
Though the Indian media and nationalists held the view that Gen, Reginald Dyer was the prime conspirator who perpetrated the mass killing of innocent Indians without any prior warning, the general consensus among the historians has been that the then Punjab lieutenant governor Sir Michael O' Dwyer, an Irish man was the real culprit and not General Dyer,
The Amritsar massacre took place during O 'Dwyer's tenure as Punjab's Lieutenant Governor as a result, of his irresponsible action, a recorded factor that made the freedom struggle move on the fast track. The governor went to the extent of backing Reginald Dyer's action, openly airing the view that Dyer's ''orders'' to shoot at the crowds was correct. In the grip of protests across India against the Rowlett act, the governor promulgated martial law in Punjab on 15 April, but backdated it to 30 March 1919. It was at 3 am, the following day (14, April) Dwyer was informed of the event . After receiving Gen. Dyer's initial report, Gov. O' Dwyer gave permission to General Beynon to send a telegram to Dyer which stated "your action correct and the lieutenant-governor approves". The governor said the firing was done to create ''a moral effect. ....from a military point of view''. Gov. O 'Dwyer on 21 April 1919, stated to the Viceroy Chelmsford in support of Gen. Dyer "the Amritsar business cleared the air, and if there was to be holocaust anywhere, and one regrets that there should be, it was best at Amritsar."
According to historian Khullar it points to a ''nexus between Sir Michael and General Dyer.'' and he also further mentioned apparently meaning to avoid backlashes and angry reactions by the natives, the news about the massacre was not allowed by the administration to spread to other parts of the country for several months. This implies that there was the censorship of the media and the media people were gaged anticipating impending mass riots across India over Amritsar massacre. After the worst tragic incident at Amritsar, Gen Dyer was involved in some unsavory acts and the Governor turned a blind eye to him. At last, O' Dwyer was relieved of his office, and later, the Secretary of State for India, Edwin Montagu, was highly critical of O' Dwyer's severity in matters related to ''communal'' and his irresponsible action in Amritsar. 'Dwyer responded by saying that "what comes of having that Jew in Whitehall", referring to Montagu. Heard before Justice McCardie in the Court of King’s Bench in London over five weeks, the case O Dwyer vs Sankaran Nair in April 1924,(one of the longest civil law hearings in legal history) O' Dwyer saw the trial as an opportunity to give full support to Gen, Dyer's so-called duty-bound action on the gatherings at the Jallianwala Bagh.
Though both Gen. Dyer and Gov. O' Dwyer carried the sigma of Jallinwala bagh massacre, the people's rage was more on the governor than on the military officer who simply acted on the strength of the Governor's official orders. Indians', in particular, Punjabis' fury was confirmed by the fact that Michael O' Dwyer, then 75 was shot dead in Caxton Hall in Westminster, London, on 13 March 1940, by an
|Shaeed Udham Singh, assassin of O' Dwyer. twitter.com|
|Daily Herald about O"Dwyer's assassination in Britaint twitter.com/|
angry Indian activist, Udham Singh. His vigilante action was in retaliation for the massacre (April 1919) in Amritsar, Punjab. Sir Michael's assassination exposes the irresponsibility of his administration in Punjab and the large-scale mobilization of Punjab men to fight in World War I and, at the same time, keeping the coffers full for the wartime efforts with tax Indian money. The imposition of martial laws, his vital role in the passing of the 1915 Defense of India Act (18 March, 1915) that gave him special powers.to form special tribunals to deal with crimes related to revolution without possibilities for appeal and other pitfalls in his administration brought out his sordid and seedy role in the bagh massacre
O' Dwyer was appointed Lieutenant Governor of Punjab in December 1912 when Lord Hardinge of Penshurst' was the Viceroy and Dwyer was already cautioned in 1913 by the Viceroy about the volatile situation prevailing in Punjab. Irish by birth, O' Dwyer was an effective ICS officer and was bestowed with a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Indian Empire as he was instrumental in choosing Indian recruits for the ''War'' (WWI) efforts from the whole of India, 360,000 men from Punjab (more than half.) In 1917. Earlier, in May 1913, he was appointed a Knight Commander of the Order of the Star of India..
Why was the governor edgy? What made him choose shooting orders on the large gathering of innocent people (many of them were from the near-by villages) celebrating the important Indian festival of Baisakhi in the bagh? In fact, most of them were unaware of the 144 curfew clamped on the town. In his book India as I knew it (1925), O' Dwyer disclosed that his time as administrator in Punjab was preoccupied by the threat of terrorism and spread of political agitation In his later years when he wrote frequently to The Times, he expressed his condemnation of the Gandhian non-cooperation movement (Satyagraha) and without any reservation, like a conservative British politician, openly endorsing British rule in India. Gen, O' Dwyer never cherished the idea of Indian natives getting freedom from the British and he never wanted them to breathe the fresh air of democratic freedom from the British shackles, because the wily Bobs in London never wanted to lose the Cash-cow that they had milked for more than 200 years since Robert Clive and his cronies of the East India company illegally seized the rich and big Bengal province.