Jallianwala Bagh- an inch of land witnesses the glory of the freedom as well as the atrocity of British empire. If you have no idea about Jallianwala Bagh, then better you don’t call yourself ‘an Indian’! If you never visited these massacre places where hundreds of Indians sacrificed their life in order to free this country, then you don’t call yourself, a blood of India!
April 13, 1919… This date has marked a turning point in the Indian freedom struggle!! That day, it was Baisakhi, a harvest festival popular in Punjab and parts of north India. People out there were about to celebrate the holy Baisakhi. But, Local residents in Amritsar decided to hold a meeting that day to discuss and protest against the confinement of Satya Pal and Saifuddin Kitchlew, two leaders freedom fighters, and implementation of the Rowlatt Act, which armed the British government with powers to detain any person without trial.
That was a proud moment for all Indians. The crowd had a huge number. Minimum of 20,000 people were gathered there to protest! They all gathered in a park called, “Jallianwala Bagh”, covered with huge walls and a few small gates, against the orders of the British. The protest was a peaceful one, and the gathering included pilgrims visiting the Golden Temple who were merely passing through the park, and some who had not come to protest but to see what is going on.
When the meeting was started, Brigadier-General Reginald Edward Harry Dyer, who was famous for his cruelty, wanting to teach the public assembled a lesson ordered 90 soldiers to hold a gun straight to the gathering! He came up with the well-trained soldiers to the venue to open fire on the crowd!
It was a tragedy that they are all believed in ‘Non-violence’ theory! The crowd was unarmed! The crowd hailed ‘Bharath Mata Ki Jai’! Along with that, the crowd witnessed the gun-fire sound!
He was not satisfied with the first round! Again, He ordered his soldiers to reload their rifles several times and they were ordered to shoot and kill. He continued shooting, approximately 1650 rounds until all ammunition was
There were women and children!not only men! But, for British, everything was fine in the case of Indians! Many tried to escape climbing the wall! They were shot! Many jumped into the well located inside the park and they died! Many tried to open up the gates, but they failed! Closed gates! Huge walls! Soldiers with the gun! And, that one British officer who was laughing at Indians!
The official death toll in the Jallainwalla Bagh massacre recorded at 379, 192 wounded! But, the sources had suggested that more than 1,000 people had lost their lives, while 1,200 people were badly injured!
It is unfortunate that, all those who died not fell to the soldiers’ bullets. Many died in the ensuing stampede while others jumped into the well of the park. The historical record says that the officials dug out close to 120 bodies from the well. Some of the severely wounded passed away as they could not get up.
General Dyer ordered his soldiers to kneel and open fire on the crowd. It has been reported that some soldiers initially fired in the air but Dyer screamed at them to target the crowd! If one soldier was least a human there, he would have saved 1000 lives by shot down the Dyer itself! But…!
Honoured with a title as ‘The Butcher of Amritsar’ in the aftermath of the massacre, General Dyer was removed from command and exiled to Britain with a gift of 26,000 pounds and honoured at the House of Lords in England. Back in his headquarters, General Dyer reported to his superiors that he had been “confronted by a revolutionary army”. In a telegram sent to Dyer, British Lieutenant-Governor of Punjab, Sir Michael O’ Dwyer wrote: “Your action is correct. Lieutenant Governor approves.” This man of ultimate cruelty finally died in 1927 after suffering a “series of heart strokes”!
Arthur Herman, the author of Book “Gandhi and Churchill, described the event before the massacre of hundreds of innocent Indians gathered in Jallianwala Bagh as, “Winston Churchill told the House of Commons, “Never has there been a time when people of India were more disposed to turn to courses of violence or show such scant respect for law and custom , tradition and procedure.” To ally the fears of men like Churchill Indian government officials decided to act.’
Arthur Herman described the order of Dyer as, “Dyer barked the order to open fire. For ten minutes Dyer encouraged his soldiers to keep shooting unless bodies carpeted the ground.” Dyer and his troops had marched off after completing the massacre in Jallianwala Bagh leaving about a thousand dead and more than 2000 wounded. “Cries of pain and moans rose to the rooftops, bodies lined the entire wall around the Bagh. In many places the eyewitnesses said, they were ten feet deep.”
Where an English woman had been pulled from her bicycle, “Dyer ordered every citizen of Amritsar to ‘crawl on all fours”. He also set up a whipping post where any ‘native’ who refused to crawl was to be flogged.
‘Gandhi did not hear of this massacre and cruelty at Jallianwala Bagh in Amritsar ‘until June’. For almost two months there was a complete clampdown. But as the news of worst ever British tyranny trickled there were unceasing protests and cries all over India.’
He further described,
“Jallianwala Bagh massacre united all Indians against British, for the first time. Rabindra Nath Tagore returned his knighthood in protest, Gandhi returned his Kaiser-e Hind medal that was awarded for his pro-British services in South Africa. Jinnah relinquished his membership of imperial legislature. Motilal Nehru collected his British furniture, suits and ties and made a bonfire in his home garden and started wearing hand span Khadi clothes.”
“The evidence was harrowing. Eyewitnesses who had watched the Jallianwala Bagh killings from the rooftops had seen “blood pouring in profusion even those who were lying down were shot….Some had their head cut open, others had eyes shot and nose, chest, arms or legs shattered.” Some witnesses had sat all night in the Bagh with dying husbands and brothers. Others remembered the bodies of those who had been shot, but managed to escape, being left in the street for dead-including the bodies of small children.”
Source: Gandhi and Churchill by Arthur Herman, Speaking tree