The Jallianwala Bagh massacre, also known as the Amritsar massacre, was a tragic event in the history of India that occurred on April 13, 1919, in the city of Amritsar, Punjab, during the British colonial rule of India. It was a turning point in India's struggle for independence. A large, peaceful crowd had gathered at the Jallianwala Bagh in Amritsar, Punjab, during the annual Baishakhi fair, to protest against the Rowlatt Act and the arrest of pro-independence activists Dr Saifuddin Kitchlew and Dr Satya Pal. The gathering included men, women, and children who were unaware that a ban on public gatherings had been imposed by British authorities earlier that day. Jallianwala Bagh Massacre: Facts You Should Know About The Amritsar Tragedy.

In response to the public gathering, the temporary brigadier general REH Dyer, surrounded the people with his Gurkha and Sikh infantry regiments of the British Indian Army. There was only one exit of the Jallianwala Bagh, as its other three sides were enclosed by buildings. After blocking the exit with his troops, he ordered them to shoot at the crowd, continuing to fire even as the protestors tried to flee. The troops kept firing until their ammunition was exhausted. As per estimates, the number of people killed varies from 379 to 1,500 or more people and over 1,200 other people were injured.

History of Jallianwala Bagh Massacre Anniversary

As per records, on April 13, 1919, Dyer knew that a major insurrection could take place and hence had banned all meetings. This notice was not widely disseminated, and many villagers gathered in the Bagh to celebrate the Baisakhi festival, and peacefully protest against the arrest of the two national leaders, Satyapal and Saifuddin Kitchlew.

By mid-afternoon, thousands of Indians had gathered in the Jallianwala Bagh near the Harmandir Sahib in Amritsar. Many who were present had been worshipping earlier at the Golden Temple and were merely passing through the Bagh on their way home. Colonel Dyer arrived at the Bagh with a group of 50 troops who were armed with .303 Lee–enfield bolt-action rifles. Without warning the crowd to disperse, Dyer ordered his troops to block the main exits and begin shooting toward the densest sections of the crowd in front of the available narrow exits, where panicked crowds were trying to leave the Bagh. Firing continued for approximately ten minutes and a large number of civilians, including men, women, elderly people and children were killed. This incident came to be known as the Amritsar massacre.

The Jallianwala Bagh massacre provoked widespread outrage and condemnation, not only within India but also internationally. It led to increased resentment towards British rule and fueled the Indian independence movement. Rabindranath Tagore, the renowned Indian poet, renounced his knighthood in protest against the massacre.

The British government set up the Hunter Commission to investigate the incident. However, General Dyer, who ordered the shooting, was not held for his actions in India but faced censure in Britain. The massacre played a significant role in mobilizing Indian public opinion against British rule and served as a catalyst for the Indian independence movement.

(The above story first appeared on LatestLY on Apr 13, 2024 06:27 AM IST. For more news and updates on politics, world, sports, entertainment and lifestyle, log on to our website