Jallianwala Bagh (Amritsar)
Is a peaceful park with picnicking families and college kids, but move to a section of the wall which still has visible bullet marks, and you will be reminded of one of the most horrific events in colonial Indian history. When the Rowlatt Act (1919), which gave the British the power to arrest and imprison Indians without a trial if suspected of sedition, was imposed on Indians it was severely criticised and regular hartals (strikes) were organised to protest the law.
Then Lieutenant Governor of Punjab, Sir Michael O' Dwyer, arrested an Indian leader causing great unrest among the people. On April 13,1919 (also the festival of Baisakhi) around 10,000 people gathered at the Jallianwala Bagh to peacefully protest the new law. General Dyer had been called to Amritsar to return the city to order.
He arrived at the Bagh with 150-armed soldiers, ordered the crowd to scatter and two minutes later inhumanly commanded his troops to open fire. The square was surrounded by high walls and the soldiers had blocked the only entrance (and exit) to the compound. The firing (1650 rounds) continued for about 15 minutes and people were shot as they tried to jump the wall while others drowned after they jumped into the well to escape the relentless onslaught of bullets, most of which found their mark.
Jallianwala Bagh is situated at a stones throw
from The Golden Temple. It is a witness of the disaster called
Jallianwala Bagh slaughter. As the history goes, during the time of
independence struggle, when Mangal Pandey propel the bugle for
beginning the struggle for independence, General Dyer made a rule
that no Indian will be allowed to hold assembly or processions.
On 13 April 1919, Baisakhi Day, thousands of Punjabis meet
from nearby places to celebrate the festival. As the communication
system was underdeveloped at that time, they were not informed about
this rule. Thinking it as a destruction of the law, General Dyer entered
in the Park with his troops and open excited on all the innocent men
women and children present there.
Jallianwala Bagh has a unique importance attached to it with respect to
India's Freedom great effort. It was at this historic park
that hundreds of men, women and children sacrificed their lives in front
of the cruel firing of the British forces. Nowadays Jallianwala Bagh has
been turned into a large and well-laid park and is a major tourist
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must visit historical places like Jallianwala Bagh and Ram Bagh etc. We
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About 400 people (including children) died while 1500 were left wounded. Though there was an international outcry over this horrific uncalled-for massacre neither Dyer nor O'Dwyer was ever charged with any crime. In response to this massacre, Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore returned his knighthood and Gandhi began his program of civil disobedience announcing that 'co-operation in any shape or form with this satanic government is sinful'.
In 1997 Queen Elizabeth II visited Jallianwala Bagh and though she laid a wreath on the memorial to the victims no official apology was made.
Jallianwala Bagh is a five-minute walk from the Golden Temple. The stone well has been preserved as a monument to the victims (120 bodies were recovered from the well) and the "flame of liberty," a 45 foot flame-shaped red sandstone pillar set in a pool, was built in 1961 as a memorial. The park is open from 6 am to 7 pm in summer and 7 am to 6 pm in winter. The Martyr's Gallery which features portraits of heroes involved in the incident, is open from 9 am to 5 pm in summer and 10 am to 4 pm in winter.
A spectrum of Left groups, as well as radical elements in the Congress, were to lay claim to the heritage of the 1919 uprising. Today, as the Shiromani Akali Dal-Bharatiya Janata Party alliance seeks to appropriate the legacies of Shaheed Udham Singh and Bhagat Singh, reclaiming the real meaning of that struggle has never been more important.
The following exchange took place at the Hunter Committee hearings:
Excuse me putting it that way, General, but was it not a resort to what has been called "frightfulness" for the benefit of the Punjab district (sic.) as a whole?
I don't think so. I think it was a horrible duty for me to perform. It was a merciful act that I had given them the chance to disperse (that is, in the morning). The responsibility was very great. I had to make up my mind that if I fired, I must fire well and strong so that it would have its full effect.
And you did not open fire with the machine guns simply by the accident of the armoured cars not being able to get in?
I have answered you. I have said that if they had been there, the possibility is that I would have opened fire with them.
You had no information that even a single individual of the mob had a firearm?
No, they were going to do it with lathis. I know there were thousands of lathis in the railway station and they were going to be their arms.