British Atrocities- Part 2 (Jallianwala Bagh Massacre)- Post No.11,608

WRITTEN BY LONDON SWAMINATHAN

Post No. 11,608

Date uploaded in London – 31 December 2022                  

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 Let me give you more from Sathnam Sanghera’s book Empireland 

He describes the Jallianwala Bhag Massacre elaborately

Jallian wala Bagh is a Park in Amritsar, about the size of Trafalgar Square in London.

About a century ago at 5-15 pm on a Sunday in April 1919, General Reginald Dyer stormed in with what he called his ‘special party’ of fifty armed infantry. Having recently arrived in the city to quash a supposed uprising against the British, and having hours earlier issued what he claimed were clear warnings against public gatherings, he concluded that the people assembled there — between 15000 and 20,000 men women and children— were intentionally resisting Raj rule. With no warning, he ordered his troops to fire. As one the huge crowd seemed to sink to the ground according to witness Sergeant WJ Anderson, a whole flutter of white garments . There were few opportunities to escape: those climbing walls were targeted and shot, as was seen anyone seen running to the exit.

 At one point according to British eyewitness, Dyer asked one of his officers ‘Do you think they have had enough? ‘before adding, ‘No, we will give them four rounds more’. And at the end of ten minute carnage ,1650 shots had been fired an average of 33 bullets per soldier.

  1000 people massacred

 The official number of deaths was eventually set at 379, with around three times as many wounded, but other sources put the number of dead between 600 and 1000. Other estimates put the dead to thousands.

 The Jallianwalla Bagh Massacre is one of the key events of the twentieth century, arguably marking the moment of the Raj lost its grip on the largest empire in human history, after which the momentum for Indian Independence became unstoppable. The Nobel Laureate Ravindranath Tagore described it ‘as without parallel in the history of civilised governments’ and returned his knighthood in protest.

 The independence activist Motilal Nehru, father of the first prime minister of India, symbolically burned his European furniture and clothes. Gandhiji declared that ‘he lost his trust in British justice’ , saying that ‘he underrated the forces of evil in the empire’.

 And in Britain even the Imperialist Winston Churchill famously described the incident as ‘monstrous’, while the Labour politician J C Wedgwood declared ‘it had destroyed our reputation throughout the world…… and damns us for all the time’.

 The massacre happened on 13th April 1919 , the Vaisakhi day. Sikhs celebrate it to commemorate the creation of the fellowship of the Khalsa by Guru Govinda Singh .

 The crowd at Jallianwalla Bagh had gathered there in peace. Some were there to listen to a political speech, but the majority were ordinary students , watch makers, barbers, hawkers, pedlars and pilgrims visiting the Golden Temple to mark the festival of Vaisakhi.

That day was considered auspicious and Maharajah Ranjit Singh chose the festival day in 1801 to proclaim himself the ruler of the Sikh Empire.

 The victims , most of whom were entirely unaware of the warnings Dyer had erratically issued across the city, included women and more than forty children, some as young as one.

 Dyer remarked afterwards that he would have used the machine guns on his armoured cars if he could have physically got them into the Bagh, but the rifles used by the troops were deadly enough. A single bullet from.303 Lee Enfield rifle of the type used in the massacre could rip through several bodies— stray shots killed at least one woman outside the Bagh— and the weapons could fire tens of rounds a minute. A military curfew prevented many injured in getting treatment. They died subsequently.

 Accounts show that the doctors who later treated victims were harassed by the authorities for the details of the patients, because anyone at Jallanwalla Bagh was labelled a potential enemy of the state. Groups of men with no evidence whatsoever, deemed to have been involved in riots or disturbances before the massacre were arrested, ordered to stand in the brutal heat for hours, flogged until they passed out, dragged by the beard, kicked up and down the streets and subjected to the sexual violence that was routine in colonial India.

 Although eventually forced to resign by the army council , Dyer was subsequently effectively exonerated by the House of Lords, and the Morning Post, which was eventually absorbed into the Daily Telegraph, started a public fund to defend him. Contributors to the fund , who included Rudyard Kipling, and one who remembers 1857, raised £26000– the equivalent today of £4.4 million. In contrast the relatives of those killed received on average just 8700 rupees each — modern equivalent £141537.

 To be continued………………………..

 Tags- Jallaianwala Bagh, British massacre, British, Atrocities, Amritsar, Dyer

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