100th anniversary of Jallianwala Bagh massacre
History & Culture
18th Apr, 2019
Recently, the cold-blooded massacre at Amritsar’s Jallianwala Bagh on April 13, 1919 (Baisakhi day) completed its 100 years. It marked a defining moment in the history of modern India and made the British presence morally untenable.
Jallianwala Bagh Massacre
- It is now a part of the world’s archives of state led crime. Troops under the command of Brigadier general (temporary rank) Reginald Dyer 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 some 10 minutes, discharging 1,650 bullets at the peaceful protestors. They stopped only when the ammunition supply was almost exhausted. This event embodied a nation’s death-defying dignity in pain and hurt.
- It was an occasion to shed a silent tear for each of the innocent Indians who lost their lives on that Baisakhi dayand a mournful moment of reflection on colonial cruelty and irrational anger.
Causes of the event:
- The massacre was the result of the Anarchical and Revolutionary Crimes Act of 1919, famously known as the Rowlatt Act.
- Rowlatt Act curbed, in the name of war-time discipline, every conceivable civil liberty. This act enabled stricter control of the press, arrests without warrant, indefinite detention without trial. It empowered the police to search a place and arrest any person they disapproved of without warrant.
- The civilians assembled for a peaceful protest to condemn the arrest and deportation of two national leaders, Satya Pal and Saifuddin Kitchlew.
Aftermath of the massacre:
- Following the massacre, the Hunter Commission was appointed to investigate into the matter. The Commission in 1920 held Dyer guilty for his actions.
- The Bengali poet and Nobellaureate Rabindranath Tagore renounced the knighthood that he had received in 1915.
- Gandhi was initially hesitant to act, but he soon began organizing his first large-scale and sustained nonviolent protest (satyagraha) campaign, the non-cooperation movement(1920–22), which thrust him to prominence in the Indian nationalist struggle.
Britain expressed deep regret for the incident
- A hundred years on, the massacre continues to inspire revulsion, even in the UK.
- British Prime Minister Theresa May called the massacre a ‘shameful scar’ on British Indian history.
- May also quoted Queen Elizabeth’s remarks, calling the incident a “distressing example” of Britain’s past history with India.
- However, the words of PM May fell short in issuing a formal apology.