Jallianwala Bagh Massacre

Jallianwala Bagh

Jallianwala Bagh massacre: Baisakhi is popular festival in Punjab celebrated on April 13 every year. Thousands of people were gartherd in Jallianwala Bagh, which is nearby Golden Temple, in Amritsar. People had come from various part of country to attend the function. Meeting was scheduled at 16:30 in the garden. After one hour of meeting time, Brigadier-General Reginald Dyer marched with a group of sixty-five Gurkha and twenty-five Baluchi soldiers into the meeting place. Fifty of those were armed with rifles. Dyer also brought two armored cars armed with machine guns. His intension was clear to kill the people without any warning. The vehicles were parked outside the main gate as they were unable to enter the garden through the narrow entrance. The Jallianwala Bagh was bounded on all sides by houses and buildings and had few narrow entrances, most of which were kept permanently locked. The main entrance was relatively wider, but was guarded by the troops backed by the armored vehicles. General Dyer ordered troops to open fire without warning or any order to disperse, and to direct fire towards the densest sections of the crowd. He continued the firing, approximately 1,650 rounds in all, until ammunition was almost exhausted. Apart from the many deaths directly from the firing, a number of deaths were caused by stampedes at the narrow gates as also people who sought shelter from the firing by jumping into the solitary well inside the compound. The wounded could not be moved from where they had fallen, as a curfew had been declared – many more died during the night. Exact numbers of deaths were not known but official figure was given as 379 by British inquiry. More than 1500 wounded in the incident. Dyer made a festival day to black day for the state.

Jallianwala Bagh

Dyer statements in inquiry: News about incident was spread but there was no detailed information about it in Britain. General Dyer reported to his superiors that he had been confronted by a revolutionary army. British Lieutenant-Governor of Punjab, Sir Michael O’Dwyer approved his action stating that he has done right job. O’Dwyer requested that martial law be imposed upon Amritsar and other areas after the massacre. Later Dyer was called to appear before the Hunter Commission, a commission of inquiry into the massacre that was ordered to convene by Secretary of State for India Edwin Montagu, in late 1919. Dyer admitted before the commission that he came to know about the meeting at the Jallianwala Bagh at 12:40 hours that day but took no steps to prevent it. He stated that he had gone to the Bagh with the deliberate intention of opening fire if he found a crowd assembled there. He said to the Hunter Commission Enquiry that he thinks it quite possible that he could have dispersed the crowd without firing but they would have come back again and laughed, and he would have made, what he considers, a fool of himself. Dyer said he would have used his machine guns if he could have got them into the enclosure, but these were mounted on armored cars. He said he did not stop firing when the crowd began to disperse because he thought it was his duty to keep firing until the crowd dispersed, and that a little firing would do no good. In fact he continued the firing till he ran out of ammunition. He confessed that he did not take any steps to tend to the wounded after the firing because it was not his job. There were hospitals open and they would have gone there for treatment.

Jallianwala Bagh

Protests in Punjab led to massacre: The circumstances in Punjab were worsening speedily, by means of disruptions of rail, telegraph and communication systems. The movement was at its peak before the end of the first week of April in Punjab. Almost whole Lahore was on the streets. According to one estimation around 20, 000 people passed through Anarkali. In Amritsar, more than 5,000 people gathered at Jallianwala Bagh. These situations worsen noticeably over the next few days. Michael O’Dwyer was looking at the rising protests and he expected that these protest will become intense like of revolt in 1857, if not suppressed on time. The Amritsar massacre, as well as responses preceding and succeeding it, contrary to being an isolated incident, was the end result of a concerted plan of response from the Punjab direction to curb such a conspiracy. On April 10, 1919, a protest was held at the residence of the Deputy Commissioner of Amritsar, a city in Punjab, a large province in the northwestern part of the then un-partitioned India. The demonstration was held to demand the release of two popular leaders of the Indian Independence Movement, Satya Pal and Saifuddin Kitchlew, who had been earlier arrested by the government and removed to a secret location. Both were proponents of the Satyagraha movement led by Mahatma Gandhi. Military killed several protestors by firing on them. The firing set off a chain of violence. Later in the day, several banks and other government buildings, including the Town Hall and the railway station were attacked and set on fire. The violence continued to escalate, culminating in the deaths of at least five Europeans, including government employees and civilians. There was retaliatory firing on the crowd from the military several times during the day, and between eighty and twenty people were killed. For the next two days, the city of Amritsar was quiet, but violence continued in other parts of the Punjab. Railway lines were cut, telegraph posts destroyed, government buildings burnt, and three Europeans were murdered. By April 13, the British government had decided to place most of the Punjab under martial law. The legislation placed restrictions on a number of civil liberties, including freedom of assembly, banning gatherings of more than four people.

Jallianwala Bagh

Revenge by Udham Singh: Udham Singh was an Indian revolutionary from Sunam and had witnessed the events in Amritsar. He was also wounded in the incident. On March, 13, 1940 in Caxton Hall, London he shot and killed Michael O’Dwyer.  It was believed that Michael O’Dwyer who was the British Lieutenant-Governor of Punjab at the time of the massacre was main lead of the plan. He had approved the action according to which Dyer worked. He was given punishment for killing Michael. Udham Singh said during trial in court that he did it because he had a grudge against him and he deserved it. He was the real culprit. He wanted to crush the spirit of my people, so he has crushed him. He told that for full 21 years, he has been trying to wreak revenge. He is happy now that he has killed him and not scared of death because he is giving his life for his country.

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