Jallianwala Bagh Massacre: The Real Story
Jallianwala Bagh Massacre, 1919, The real story is a picturesquely written and strongly corroborated by facts literature about a historic incident in colonial India which shook the conscience of the people of Hindustan.
The USP of this book on Jalianwala Bagh massacre is that within few hundred pages the author has unraveled the story in a layman’s words.
Majority of Indians are aware about the Jalianwala Bagh massacre and the man who was behind this inhuman act, General Dyer.
But, have you ever heard the name of Michael O’Dwyer, Miles Irving and those imperialists who also supported directly and indirectly the cowardly act of Dyer which he committed with impunity in Amritsar in 1919.
And don’t get confused between the names of O’Dwyer and Dyer. The latter was the butcher of Jallianwala Bagh massacre and the former was the lieutenant governor of Punjab, British India.
There are chances that some of you’ve seldomly heard the name of those persons mentioned above, isn’t it.
I’m not going to blame you entirely for this. Although, it’s the responsibility of a sane and curious individual to learn and taught himself (herself) about the past of its motherland.
In fact, the problem lies somewhere else. It’s in our system, which not only made us a memory machine to learn unnecessary things for our badly designed government exams. But, the poorly researched Bollywood movies are also need to be blamed for polishing our ignorance.
The entire focus of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre is directed towards one man that they have forgotten to tell us the context in which it took place.
Here, I’ll try to write about it in a layman’s terms.
What was Jallianwala Bagh Massacre?
On 13 April 1919, hundreds of Young men, elderly people and children attended a peaceful gathering at the Jallianwala Bagh in Amritsar, Punjab, to protests against the Rowlatt acts when out of the blue they were murdered in cold blood on the orders of General Dyer. This brutal killings of the peaceful protesters are remembered as the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre.
This horrific tragedy is a blot on the history of the so-called fairness of the British Empire for which they never apologized.
According to a larger perception that lot of women were died at the Jallianwala Bagh. But, according to the eyewitnesses there were no women present at the protests site and also only two dead bodies of women were recovered.
Although, several Young men had lost their lives in this murderous act of the British regime.
The Nonviolent Satyagraha of Mahatma Gandhi:-
In 1919, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi aka Mahatma Gandhi gave a nonviolent call against The Anarchial and Revolutionary Crimes Acts, famously known as the Rowlatt Acts.
This was Gandhi’s first pan India movement. And people from all across the society gave their support to this just cause.
In fact, the Hindu-Muslim unity was quite visible during that time. And the British regime was scared because of this camaraderie between Hindus and Muslims. Because, they had maintained their hold on India by cunningly using the policy of ‘Divide and Rule’.
As people from all over British India participated against the Rowlatt acts so how can the people of Punjab lack behind.
That’s why the people of Amritsar, Lahore came out in open to show their support to this Gandhian creed of nonviolence.
But, on April 10 in Amritsar, the combined forces of police and the army launched an assault against a group of unarmed Indians who were demanding the release of their leaders, Dr Saifuddin Kitchlew and Dr Satya Pal.
In this assault several Indians lost their lives and many were wounded. This confrontation started a riot in the city of Amritsar.
The Indians started targeting the government buildings and in this conflict five Europeans also lost their lives and two European women were harassed.
The British officials, especially the lieutenant governor of Amritsar, Michael O’Dwyer were more interested in teaching the Indians a lesson which they will never forget.
For these racists imperialists the life of an European is worth hundred times to that of an Indian. That’s why an unofficial martial law was declared in the city of Amritsar. The electric and water supply was cut off to teach the natives a strong lesson.
In fact, the whole of Punjab was turned into a war zone. And the civilian authorities relinquished their responsibilities and the army was called to take over the charge.
This was the environment in the city of Amritsar before the arrival of the infamous General Dyer and the horrific acts which he committed in Jallianwala Bagh.
General Dyer, The Butcher of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre:-
Brigadier General Reginald Edward Harry Dyer CB was born and brought up in British India. He speak the hindustani language quite well. But, he rosed to prominence after his cowardly act in Jallianwala Bagh in Amritsar in 1919.
As soon as he set his foot in Amritsar he made up his mind to teach a ‘Moral lesson’ to the inhabitants of Amritsar.
These imperialists were afraid that a mutiny like 1857 will be repeated if they don’t crush the rebellion. Although, there was no rebellion as such.
These colonists were paranoid because few Europeans had lost their lives and two women were harassed. That’s why they created an unknown fear of the mutiny which never occurred.
When General Dyer came to Amritsar after the incident of April 10 the city was calm. But, as I said earlier that he already made up his mind to teach the natives a lesson.
Although, the curfew was already implemented in Amritsar and they had applied posters in the city that any kind of gatherings will be considered as seditious but deliberately they ignored to spread the message in the area around Jallianwala Bagh and no posters were pasted on the walls of the Bagh.
As, Jallianwala Bagh was a barren land near the golden temple which was used for the grazing of the bovine and also a playground for children. The entry and the exit to the Bagh was same and very narrow.
In fact, it was an open space that’s why Dyer and others like him ignored to convey the curfew message there because they wanted the people to gather so that they can act.
As 13 April 1919, was the day of Baisakhi, Sunday, and a meeting was called by the respected members of the city.
Lot of people came to the meeting and they also brought with them their young children. They had never imagined in their wildest dreams that they will going to be butchered like animals.
As soon as General Dyer learnt about the meeting in Jallianwala Bagh he took with him two armoured cars with machine guns and the soldiers of the Gurkha and the Baluchi regiment.
One important thing which need to be noted that General Dyer didn’t included any British soldiers with him instead he bring the Gurkha and the Baluchi soldiers which not only had no connection with the Punjab region but they didn’t speak the punjabi language.
In fact, It was a planned attack against the unarmed and peaceful inhabitants of the city of Amritsar.
When Dyer reached to the Jallianwala Bagh he closed the only exit and placed his soldiers in a uniform way.
As the entry to the Jallianwala Bagh was too narrow that’s why the armoured cars with the machine guns didn’t enter the compound otherwise the casualties would have been too high.
But, being a megalomaniac, Dyer wanted revenge. That’s why without informing the protesters he gave his troops the orders to fire. The firing continued for almost ten minutes.
As majority of the protesters at the Jallianwala Bagh were either sitting or squatting on the ground that’s why majority of them had the bullet wounds on their back, hands and head.
Although, it’s a perception that people died only with the wounds of the bullets. It’s not like that, some of them also died during the stampede, and others died in the well while fleeing.
In fact, after the massacre those people who somehow managed to survive the onslaught died slowly because of the wounds and the unavailability of the medical care.
Imagine the condition of the people who died just because they were attending a peaceful gathering against an unjust law.
This is what people feel everyday who are living in a dictatorship or under a regime who is only democratic in name only.
Power without accountability:-
After the killing of innocent people in Jallianwala Bagh, Dyer and those colonialists felt contained that finally they taught the natives a great lesson.
In fact, Dyer was commended for his acts by those people who thought that he had saved the British Empire from another Mutiny.
In fact, even after the killings Dyer and others like him wanted more that’s why several humiliated orders were passed not only against the inhabitants of Amritsar but the whole of Punjab was subjugated under these ludicrous orders.
The most infamous of these orders were the ‘Crawling Order’ of Dyer.
As you’ve remembered that I’ve mentioned that during the riots of 10 April 1919, Two European women were harassed.
One of them was Marcella Sherwood, a missionary. She was attacked on the street of Gali Kaurianwala (In Amritsar).
Under the crawling order of Dyer anyone who passed through it was forced to crawl. That’s how they treated the people of Amritsar. This order remained in force for almost a week (19 to 24 April).
And not only Amritsar but some other cities of Punjab like Lahore, Gujranwala and Kasur faced such kind of humiliating orders.
In fact, when the news of the massacre reached the other cities of Punjab there were some kind of protests against these atrocities.
Particularly in Gujranwala to quell the protests the British not only bombed the city but they also used machine guns against the inhabitants.
This is the best example we can give of power without accountability.
Although, after several months of martial law and censorship when the news of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre started reaching to the other cities of India the people were shocked after knowing the atrocities committed by General Dyer.
Nobel laureates like Rabindranath Tagore gave up his knighthood after knowing about the Jallianwala Bagh incident.
Albeit, when the British Secretary of State, Edwin Montagu, realised the seriousness of the incident he ordered a ‘Disorders Inquiry Committee’, famously known as the Hunter Committee.
The president of the committee was Lord Hunter, a former Solicitor General of Scotland. The committee comprised both white and non white members.
I’ll mention about the non white members. Their name are as follows, Pandit Jagat Narayan, Member of the legislative Council of the lieutenant governor of the United Provinces; Sir Chimanlal Setalvad, Advocate of the Bombay High Court; and Sardar Sahibzada Sultan Ahmed Khan, barrister-in-law, member for appeals, Gwalior State.
Other than the Hunter committee an another committee was formed by the All India Congress. This sub-committee was under the leadership of Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya, and Pandit Motilal Nehru and Mahatma Gandhi as members.
The Hunter committee thoroughly grilled General Dyer but neither he showed any remorse nor he was sorry for what he did.
In fact, this incident which is mentioned by the Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru in his autobiography describes the mentality of General Dyer –
Towards the end of the year (1919) I travelled from Amritsar to Delhi by the night train. The compartment I entered was almost full and the berths, except the upper one, were occupied by the sleeping passengers. I took the vacant upper berth. In the morning I discovered that all my fellow passengers were military officers. They conversed with each other in loud voices which I could not help overhearing. One of them was holding forth in an aggressive and triumphant tone and soon I discovered that he was Dyer, the hero of Jallianwala Bagh and he was describing his Amritsar experiences. He pointed out how he had the whole town at his mercy and he felt like reducing the rebellious city to a heap of ashes, but he took pity on it and refrained. He was evidently coming back from Lahore after giving his evidence before the Hunter Committee of Enquiry. I was greatly shocked to hear his conversation and to observe his callous manner. He descended at Delhi station in pyjamas with bright pink stripes and a dressing gown.
This is what absolute power can do. No checks and balances on an individual or an institution is too dangerous to ignore.
Although, General Dyer was forced to retire after the publication of the hunter committee report. But, in Britain he was considered as a hero. In fact, a fund was raised for him. And when he died on 23 July 1927 a military funeral was given to him.
But, the lieutenant governor of Punjab, Michael O’Dwyer was killed in London on 13 March 1940 by Sardar Udham Singh. The latter was an Indian revolutionary who was inspired by the deeds of Sardar Bhagat Singh.
And by killing O’Dwyer, Udham Singh took the revenge for the Jallianwala Bagh massacre.
Although, General Dyer and people like him are no more with us but there are lot of people like them around us who not only suppresses the basic fundamental rights of humans but they also dislike any kind of protests. We need to be beware of them.
I’ll conclude with these words of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi,
‘We do not want to punish Dyer. We have no desire for revenge. We want to change the system that produced Dyer. ‘.
My Ratings: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ (4/5)
I hope you like this, Thanks for reading, Jai Hind.
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