100th anniversary of Amritsar massacre
Amritsar : India on Saturday marked the 100th anniversary of the Amritsar massacre, one of the worst atrocities of British colonial rule for which London has yet to apologize.
The Jallianwala Bagh massacre, as it is known in India, saw British troops fire on thousands of unarmed people in Amritsar on April 13, 1919.
The senseless violence catalysed the Indian independence movement and gave it a new shape and momentum. It also gave impetus to the Gurdwara Reform Movement, what with Dyer being honoured by the mahant of the Golden Temple with a siropa and declared a Sikh just after he had butchered hundreds of innocents.
The incident itself may have later been overshadowed by the devastation caused by Partition, but the massacre is still an emotional issue for Punjabis.
The number of casualties is unclear, with colonial-era records showing about 400 deaths, while Indian figures put the number at closer to 1,000.
In 1997, Queen Elizabeth II laid a wreath at the site, but her gaffe-prone husband, Prince Philip, stole the headlines by reportedly saying that Indian estimates for the death count were “vastly exaggerated.”
The massacre, on April 13, 1919, is one of the darkest chapters of India’s freedom struggle against the British occupation.
The Year 2019 marks the Centenary of the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre, also known as the Amritsar Massacre that occurred on April 13, 1919.
On this day, soldiers of the British Indian Army, on the orders of Colonel (temporary brigadier general) Reginald Dyer, massacred peaceful and unarmed celebrators, including women and children, on the occasion of the Punjabi New Year (Baisakhi). This massacre is remembered as one of the deadliest attacks on peaceful civilians in the world.
In the afternoon of that fateful day, Colonel Dyer, later called ‘the butcher of Amritsar’, on hearing that a meeting had assembled at Jallianwala Bagh, went with 90 soldiers to a raised bank near the entrance to the Bagh and ordered them to shoot at the crowd, without giving any warning. Dyer continued the firing for about ten minutes, until the ammunition supply was almost exhausted.
This past week, British Prime Minister Theresa May told the House of Commons that the massacre was “a shameful scar on British Indian history.”
“We deeply regret what happened and the suffering caused,” May said — but she, too, avoided saying she was sorry.
Congress president Rahul Gandhi and Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh paid homage at the Jallianwala Bagh Memorial on Saturday to mark the centenary of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre.
Rahul Gandhi took to Twitter and wrote, Today is the centenary of the brutal Jallianwalla Bagh massacre, a day of infamy that stunned the entire world and changed the course of the Indian freedom struggle.
The cost of our freedom must never be forgotten. #JallianwalaBaghCentenary
Today is the centenary of the brutal Jallianwalla Bagh massacre, a day of infamy that stunned the entire world and changed the course of the Indian freedom struggle.
The cost of our freedom must never be forgotten.
— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) April 13, 2019
Gandhi, Singh, Punjab minister Navjot Singh Sidhu, accompanied by some other Congress leaders, paid floral tributes at the memorial inside the Jallianwala Bagh in the morning. They also observed a two-minute silence to remember those who were massacred in the tragic incident on April 13, 1919.
Amarinder Singh, the chief minister of Punjab state, said May’s words were not enough. He said “an unequivocal official apology” is needed for the “monumental barbarity.” Singh was using Twitter, where pictures showed him greeting opposition Congress party leader Rahul Gandhi in Amritsar on the eve of the centenary.
Remembering the martyrs of Jallianwala Bagh Massacre on the centenary of the most gruesome incident in Indian history. The sacrifice and valour of the martyrs of this tragedy will never be forgotten by. The nation remains indebted to them. #JallianwalaBaghCentenary pic.twitter.com/Mf6yDAnmLK
— Capt.Amarinder Singh (@capt_amarinder) April 13, 2019
In an Amarinder Singh wrote ;
Remembering the innocent souls who were martyred on this day, 100 years ago. This day is a reminder of the struggle of thousands to attain independence.
Remembering the innocent souls who were martyred on this day, 100 years ago. This day is a reminder of the struggle of thousands to attain independence.#JallianwalaBaghCentenary pic.twitter.com/S42OyPtlk5
— Capt.Amarinder Singh (@capt_amarinder) April 13, 2019
British High Commissioner to India Sir Dominic Asquith laid a wreath at the Jallianwala Bagh memorial here on Saturday on the centenary of the massacre and said Britain “deeply regretted” the suffering caused to the victims.
“The event of Jallianwala Bagh 100 years ago today reflects a shameful act in British-India history. We deeply regret what happened and the suffering caused. I am pleased today that the UK and India have and remain committed to developing further a thriving 21st Century partnership,” Asquith wrote in the visitor’s book at the memorial.
It is worth to mention here that, On April 10, 1919, a protest was held at the residence of the Deputy Commissioner of Amritsar. The demonstration was held to demand the release of two popular leaders of the Indian Independence Movement, Satya Paul and Saifuddin Kitchlew, who had been earlier arrested on account of their protests. The crowd was shot at by British troops, which resulted in more violence. Later in the day, several banks and other government buildings, including the Town Hall and the railway station were attacked and set on fire. The violence continued to increase and resulted in the deaths of some Europeans, including government employees and civilians.
For the next two days, the city of Amritsar was quiet, but violence continued in other parts of Punjab.
On 13 April 1919, Colonel (temporary Brigadier General) Dyer reached Amritsar from Jalandhar Cantonment and virtually occupied the town, as the civil administration under Miles Irving, the Deputy Commissioner, had come to a standstill. On the same day, convinced of a major insurrection in the offing, Dyer banned all meetings. However, this notice was not widely disseminated.