Jallianwala Bagh Massacre
The massacre incident of Jallianwalla Bagh that occured in the city of Amritsar in the Punjab was pathetic and tragic. It is famous as the Jallianwalla Bagh Massacre.
The day was the 13th April, 1919. It was the Hindu New Year’s Day or the day of the Baisakhi Festival. On that day in the afternoon thousands of people of Amritsar gathered at a place named Jallianwalla Bagh, situated in the city. They gathered there to celebrate the Baishakhi. There were men, women and children in the gathering.
A day earlier, the Government had ordered that no meeting should be held in the city. But that order did not reach the people. Therefore, they gathered in large number without fear to take part in their traditional fair. It was perfectly an unarmed and harmless gathering.
Only a few minutes were left to sunset. Suddenly there appeared at the fate of Jallianwala Bagh an Englishman named General Dyer with his troops. That was the only gate of that enclosed Bagh or garden. There stood the General with his soldiers armed with guns.
Dyer did not order the people to leave the place. He did not give them any time to think either. Without any warning, he ordered his soldiers to fire. The place was surrounded by high walls on all sides. It was possible for the people to climb the walls and escape. The only gate, through which they entered, was the gate where Dyer stood. It was an elevated ground from where Dyer’s soldiers found it easier to shoot. People could not have escaped through that gate. The soldiers continued to fire without stop. They stopped only when there were no more shots to fire. As the bullets were showered, people ran inside the Bagh in desperate attempt to save life. But there was no escape. Dead or wounded, they fell.
When General Dyer left the place, in the gathering darkness of the evening, Jallianwala Bagh looked like a valley of death. The Bagh was covered with Human blood. The agony and cry of the wounded echoed round the walls. Nobody ventured to see them. The night fell over Jallianwala Bagh as the dead and the dying lay on the ground.
According to the official report prepared by the Government, the number of the lead was 379, and the number of the wounded, more than 1,000. But the public enquiry which was conducted at the direction of Mahatma Gandhi showed that 1,200 people were killed and 3,600 were wounded in that fateful evening at Jallianwala Bagh.
The news of Jallianwala Bagh shocked India. But the Government proceeded with further persecution. The Punjab was placed under Martial Law. Public floggings were ordered. People were forced to crawl on their bellies while passing through a particular street. Arrests were made at random. General Dyer felt greatly proud that he taught Indians a good lesson. His object was to terrify the people all over the country by performing a general massacre at one place.
The English historian Valentine Chirol described that day of the massacre as the “black day in the annals of British India.” As the tragic story of the massacre echoed round India, Gandhi was estimating the value of the British rule. He thought that General Dyer might be a bad Englishman. But the British race, in its noble traditions, should certainly condemn his action. Gandhi paused for a while, awaiting justice.