History of Jallianwala Bagh Massacre, 13 April 1919

History of Jallianwala Bagh Massacre, 13 April 1919 को अमृतसर में क्या हुआ था? Modern Indian History

 

The Jallianwala Bagh massacre, also known as the Amritsar massacre, took place on 13 April 1919 when troops of the British Indian Army under the command of Acting Brig-Gen Reginald Dyer fired rifles into a crowd of Punjabis who had gathered in Jallianwala Bagh, Amritsar, Punjab.

The civilians had assembled for a peaceful protest to condemn the arrest and deportation of two national leaders, Satya Pal and Saifuddin Kitchlew.

The Jallianwalla Bagh is a public garden of 6 to 7 acres (2.8 ha), walled on all sides, with five entrances.

On Sunday, 13 April 1919, Dyer was convinced of a major insurrection and he banned all meetings; however this notice was not widely disseminated. That was the day of Baisakhi, the main Sikh festival, and many villagers had gathered in the Bagh.

On hearing that a meeting had assembled at Jallianwala Bagh, Dyer went with Gurkha troops from the 2nd/9th Gurkha Rifles.


Dyer’s force entered the garden, blocking the main entrance after them, took up position on a raised bank, and on Dyer’s orders fired on the crowd for about ten minutes, directing their bullets largely towards the few open gates through which people were trying to flee, until the ammunition supply was almost exhausted.

The following day Dyer stated in a Report to the General Officer Commanding that “I hear that between 200 and 300 of the crowd were killed. My party fired 1,650 rounds.”, a number apparently derived by counting empty cartridge cases picked up by the troops.

The Hunter Commission report on the incident, published the following year by the Government of India, criticised both Dyer, and the Government of the Punjab for failing to compile a casualty count, so quoted a figure offered by the Sewa Samati (A Social Services Society) of 379 identified dead, with approximately 1,100 wounded, of which 192 were seriously injured.

The casualty number estimated by the Indian National Congress was more than 1,500 injured, with approximately 1,000 dead. This “brutality stunned the entire nation”, resulting in a “wrenching loss of faith” of the general public in the intentions of the UK.

The ineffective inquiry and the initial accolades for Dyer by the House of Lords fuelled widespread anger, later leading to the Non-cooperation Movement of 1920–22.

Dyer was initially lauded by conservative forces in the empire, but in July 1920 he was censured and forced to retire by the House of Commons.

He became a celebrated hero in the UK among most of the people connected to the British Raj, for example, the House of Lords, but unpopular in the House of Commons, which voted against Dyer as a Colonel.

He was disciplined by being removed from his appointment, was passed over for promotion and was prohibited from further employment in India.
Rudyard Kipling declared that Dyer “did his duty as he saw it”. This incident shocked Rabindranath Tagore (first Asian Nobel laureate) to such extent that he stated whilst refusing his knighthood that “such mass murderers aren’t worthy of giving any title to anyone”.

The massacre some historians have argued caused a re-evaluation of the army’s role, in which the new policy became minimum force; however, later British actions during the Mau Mau insurgencies have led Huw Bennett to question this school of thought.

The army was retrained and developed less violent tactics for crowd control. Some historians consider the episode a decisive step towards the end of British rule in India.

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