100 years of Jallianwala Bagh massacre

Jallianwala Bagh massacre by the butcher of Amritsar left this wall with bullet marks

Massacre at Jallianwala Bagh

Jallianwala Bagh massacre makes your blood boil. 13 April 2019 will mark 100 years of this gruesome tragedy unleashed by Col. Reginald Dyer known as the butcher of Amritsar. The retribution came 21 years after this horrific massacre, when Shaheed Udham Singh gunned down Michael O’Dwyer in London.

Such incidents need to be remembered to realise how barbaric can humans become. We need to ensure that such dark chapters in history are narrated to our children so that they develop a clear sense of what is evil and the terrible acts that evil minds can unleash on innocent and unsuspecting fellow humans.

Historical lane at the site of Jallianwala Bagh massacre by the butcher of Amritsar
Historical lane at the site of Jallianwala Bagh massacre by the butcher of Amritsar

 

Plaque at the infamous passage at Jallianwala Bagh massacre site, Amritsar
Plaque at the infamous passage at Jallianwala Bagh massacre site, Amritsar

Reginald Dyer, the butcher of Amritsar

As children studying history books in school, we had this deep sense of anger and revulsion to British rule while reading about this dastardly act by the British troops. However, when you visit the actual site, walk through the narrow lane from which the villain called Col. Reginald Dyer conducted his soldiers, see the bullet marks on the wall, read the display outside martyr’s well, everything changes. You start living that tragic day. You start living the screams of hundreds of innocent people including children who were butchered by a very uncivilised regime. 

Jallianwala Bagh massacre by the butcher of Amritsar left bullet marks on this wall
Jallianwala Bagh massacre by the butcher of Amritsar left bullet marks on this wall

 

Martyrs' Well at Jallianwala Bagh, Amritsar
Martyrs’ Well at Jallianwala Bagh, Amritsar

Till date, 100 years after Jallianwala Bagh massacre, India has not received a formal apology from England about this ghastly act. We saw a private apology letter from the descendants of Reginald Dyer, at the little museum there.

Even more shameful – fund for Dyer

Here is what I found about Dyer – On his exile to Britain, Dyer was presented with a gift of £26,000 sterling, a huge sum in those days (approximately £1,000,000 in terms of 2013 PPP), which emerged from a fund set up on his behalf by the Morning Post, a conservative, pro-imperialist newspaper which later merged with the Daily Telegraph. (source : Wikipedia)

Retribution by Shaheed Udham Singh

Caxton Hall, London was the site where Shaheed Udham Singh gunned down Michael O'Dwyer on 13 March 1940 as a retribution for the barbaric act of Jallianwala Bagh massacre of innocent people at Amritsar
Caxton Hall, London was the site where Shaheed Udham Singh gunned down Michael O’Dwyer on 13 March 1940 as a retribution for the barbaric act of Jallianwala Bagh massacre of innocent people at Amritsar

On 13 March 1940, at Caxton Hall in London, Sardar Udham Singh, an Indian revolutionary, who had witnessed the events in Amritsar and had himself been wounded, shot and killed Michael O’Dwyer, the Lieutenant-Governor of Punjab at the time of the massacre. It was Michael O’Dwyer, who had approved Dyer’s action. He was believed to have been the main planner.

Sardar Udham Singh had told the court at his trial:

I did it because I had a grudge against him. He deserved it. He was the real culprit. He wanted to crush the spirit of my people, so I have crushed him. For full 21 years, I have been trying to wreak vengeance. I am happy that I have done the job. I am not scared of death. I am dying for my country. I have seen my people starving in India under the British rule. I have protested against this, it was my duty. What a greater honour could be bestowed on me than death for the sake of my motherland?

Shaheed Udham Singh was hanged for the murder on 31 July 1940.

Acknowledgments

The credit for our trip to Amritsar in 2010 goes to my friend Channi (Charanjit Singh Mehta) who drove us from Delhi to Amritsar and back.

Our visit to Caxton Hall, London in 2017 was made possible thanks to Shri. Vasudeo Godbole who accompanied us for a visit to all historical sites associated with Indian freedom struggle.

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