Jallianwala Bagh Massacre 1919 Completes 103 years.
New Delhi, April 13: Jallianwala Bagh massacre also known as Amritsar massacre, in which hundreds of people were killed as a result of random open firing by colonial forces on this day in 1919, marks 103 years today (Wednesday) . The Jallianwala Bagh massacre was considered a pivotal moment during India's freedom struggle.
Cause of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre:
On the afternoon of 13th April 1919; A crowd of at least 10,000 men, women and children gathered at the Jallianwala Bagh, which was almost entirely surrounded by walls and had only one exit. The motive of the gathering was to hold a peaceful protest at Jallianwala Bagh because of the arrest of two freedom fighters Satyapal and Saifuddin Kitchlew, along with the celebration of Baisakhi. But the situation turned into massive violence after General Reginald Dyer ordered his troops to start firing, killing hundreds and injuring thousands. It is not clear how many people were protesting the ban on public gatherings and how many had come to the city from the surrounding area to celebrate Baisakhi, the spring festival. The British had banned gatherings at the time and to punish civilians for their 'disobedience', Brigadier-General Reginald Dyer, therefore ordered the army to target a crowd of thousands of unarmed Indians, who came together to celebrate the marking of the festival of Baisakhi, a spring festival, unaware of the order.
Reginald Dyer and his troop of soldiers arrived and closed the exit. Out of the blue, he ordered his troop to open fire without any warning; he reportedly continued firing hundreds of rounds till his troop ran out of ammunition, reportedly after about 1650 rounds. Although it is not certain how many people died in the bloodshed, but, according to an official report, an estimated 380 people were killed, and about 1,200 others were injured. After they stopped firing, the soldiers immediately withdrew, leaving behind the dead and wounded.
Events after the massacre:
After the Jallianwala Bagh massacre, Martial law was declared in Punjab, which included public flouting and other insults. Indian outrage grew as news of the shooting and subsequent British actions spread across the subcontinent. After gaining knowledge of this vile act, World famous Bengali poet and Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore disavowed his British Knighthood which he had received in 1915. Mahatma Gandhi was initially hesitant to act, but he soon began organizing his first large-scale and sustained non-violent protest (Satyagraha) campaign, the Non-Cooperation Movement (1920- 22), which brought him prominence in the Indian nationalist struggle. The Indian government ordered an inquiry into the incident (Hunter Commission), which in 1920 condemned Dyer for his actions and ordered him to resign from the military.
Britain's reaction to the bloodbath:
The reaction in Britain to the Jallianwala Bagh massacre was mixed. Although many condemned Dyer's actions, including Sir Winston Churchill, the then Secretary of War, in a 1920 speech to the House of Commons. But the House of Lords praised Reginald Dyer, presented him a sword on which was inscribed for him as "Saviour of Punjab". In addition, a huge fund was raised and presented by Dyer's sympathizers. The Jallianwala Bagh site in Amritsar is now considered as a national monument and heritage site.