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Jallianwala incident

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Topics Covered:

  1. The Freedom Struggle – its various stages and important contributors /contributions from different parts of the country.

 

Jallianwala incident

 

What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: Jallianwala Bagh incident- overview, impacts and outcomes, why do you think the UK should apologize now?

 

Context: British Prime Minister Theresa May has reiterated the UK government’s long-standing expression of ‘deep regret’ over the April 1919 Jallianwala Bagh massacre and called the massacre a ‘shameful scar’ on British Indian history. However, she did not issue any formal apology.

 

About the incident:

April 13, 1919, marked a turning point in the Indian freedom struggle. It was Baisakhi that day, a harvest festival popular in Punjab and parts of north India. Local residents in Amritsar decided to hold a meeting that day to discuss and protest against the confinement of Satya Pal and Saifuddin Kitchlew, two leaders fighting for Independence, and implementation of the Rowlatt Act, which armed the British government with powers to detain any person without trial.

The crowd had a mix of men, women and children. They all gathered in a park called the Jallianwala Bagh, walled on all sides but for a few small gates, against the orders of the British. The protest was a peaceful one, and the gathering included pilgrims visiting the Golden Temple who were merely passing through the park, and some who had not come to protest.

While the meeting was on, Brigadier-General Reginald Edward Harry Dyer, who had crept up to the scene wanting to teach the public assembled a lesson, ordered 90 soldiers he had brought with him to the venue to open fire on the crowd. Many tried in vain to scale the walls to escape. Many jumped into the well located inside the park.

 

Outcomes:

  • Considered the ‘The Butcher of Amritsar’ in the aftermath of the massacre, General Dyer was removed from command and exiled to Britain.
  • Rabindranath Tagore and Mahatma Gandhi, as a sign of condemnation, renounced their British Knighthood and Kaiser-i-Hind medal respectively.
  • In 1922, the infamous Rowlett Act was repealed by the British.

 

Sources: the hindu.

Mains Question: The tragedy of Jallianwala Bagh is a shameful scar on British Indian history. Comment.