History of Jallianwala Bagh – Causes of Massacre & Facts

The Massacre took place on 13th April 1919 at Jallianwala Bagh located in Amritsar. Jallianwala Bagh Massacre is also known as Amritsar Massacre when the troops of the British Indian Army fired on unarmed people gathered on the occasion of Baisakhi.

By afternoon, thousands of people including Sikhs, Hindus & Muslims gathered. Some people joined meetings, who worshiped at Golden Temple and were passing through on their way home. The local police closed the Baisakhi fair at 2 in the afternoon. Thus more people gathered at Jallianwala Bagh estimated around 25,000 in counting. Both Colonel & Irving (Deputy Commissioner of Amritsar) were aware of the meeting. The civil authority of Amritsar and Deputy Commissioner Irving sent local police to disperse the crowd peacefully.

Jallianwala Bagh Massacre History

The meeting started at the scheduled time in Jallianwala Bagh. Colonel Reginald Dyer arrived at Bagh with the force of 90 people including Sikh, Baluchi, Gurkha. Force was armed with rifles & .303 Lee–Enfield bolt-action rifles & armored cars armed with machine guns. The main entrance and exits of Bagh were blocked by armored cars.

Dyer then ordered his troops to start firing towards the densest areas of the crowd. Troops continued to fire for approx. 10 minutes. Ceasefire was ordered when ammunition was almost exhausted. People died in stampedes and many jumped into the well in Bagh. Many left wounded there because they fell down and couldn’t move. The official number given by the British is 379 deaths in a massacre. But Indian National Congress concluded the number of more than 1500 in separate inquiry with approx. 1000 being killed and the rest left wounded. Dyer finally found guilty in British inquiry and forced to resign his command.

Causes of Jallianwala Bagh Massacre

The Rowlatt Act (Black Act) was passed on March 10, 1919, by British Govt., to imprison or confine without a trial any person associated with actions or speech against Govt. This caused nationwide unrest. After this Act was passed, Gandhi initiated Satyagraha (a telegram from the Governor of Bombay to the Viceroy) to oppose this Act. On April 7, 1919, Gandhi published an article describing ways to oppose the Rowlatt Act.

The British authorities discussed amongst themselves the actions to be taken against Gandhi and any other leaders, who were participating in the Satyagraha. New orders were issued to prohibit Gandhi from entering Punjab and to arrest him if he disobeyed the orders. The two prominent leaders Dr. Saifuddin Kitchlew and Dr. Satyapal, who were a symbol of Hindu-Muslim unity, organized a peaceful protest against the Rowlatt Act in Amritsar. On April 9, 1919, O’ Dwyer issued orders to the Deputy Commissioner, Mr. Irving to arrest Dr. Satyapal and Dr. Kitchlew.

On April 10, 1919, the angry protestors marched to the Deputy Commissioner’s residence to demand the release of their two leaders. Here these protesters were fired upon without any warning or conversation, which resulted in many people were wounded and killed.

On 13th April 1919 at 9 A.M Colonel Reginald Dyer (Military Commander of Amritsar) announced the implementation of the rule to visit or leave Amritsar with permission. A curfew started and city officials banned the public gathering and meetings of 4 or more people. In the meanwhile, the local officials got the news of the planned meeting at Jallianwala Bagh through detectives.

Causes of Jallianwala Bagh Massacre Amritsar

However, from the British point of view, it was a political gathering as seen from the documents present in the National Archives of India. Colonel Reginald Dyer was informed about this planned meeting in Amritsar. When the news reached General Dyer, he headed to the Bagh with his troops. He entered the Bagh, deployed his troops, and ordered them to open fire without giving any warning.

The Revenge – Assassination of Michael O’Dwyer

Michael Francis O’Dwyer endorsed Colonel Reginald Dyer’s activity of the Massacre done in Amritsar and said it a “Right Action”. Michael O’Dwyer was British Lieutenant-Governor of Punjab (India) from 1912 to 1919. He who ordered & approved Colonel R. Dyer’s action of massacre and was believed to have been the main planner behind the massacre. Sardar Udham Singh, a freedom fighter from Sunam (Punjab) was available in the meeting held at Jallianwala Bagh and had himself been wounded in the massacre. On 13 March 1940 S. Udham Singh shot & killed Michael O’Dwyer at Caxton Hall in London.

Singh got arrested and said the below lines to court at his trial:

I did it because I had a grudge against him. He deserved it. He was the real culprit. He wanted to crush the spirit of my people, so I have crushed him. For the full 21 years, I have been trying to wreak vengeance. I am happy that I have done the job. I am not scared of death. I am dying for my country. I have seen my people starving in India under British rule. I have protested against this, it was my duty. What greater honor could be bestowed on me than death for the sake of my motherland?

Singh was sentenced to death and hanged for murder on 31 July 1940. Indian Govt. after independence gave the title of “Shaheed” to S. Udham Singh.

When did Jallianwala Bagh Massacre happen?

Jallianwala Bagh Massacre took place on 13th April 1919 at 9 AM on the occasion of Baisakhi. Baisakhi is a cultural festival celebrated in Punjab every year on 13th April.

Timings

Jallianwala Bagh remains open from 6 AM – 7 PM in the Summer season. However, the management changes the time in winter from 7 AM – 6 PM. Visit once to see & read the History of Jallianwala Bagh. Entry to Jallianwala Bagh is absolutely free.

Where is the Jallianwala Bagh located?

Jallianwala Bagh is located just next to the Golden Temple complex. It is located less than 500m of distance from Golden Temple in Heritage Street. You can visit this place by walk while enjoying the cultural stores and shops on Heritage Street. This 6-7 acres of land is surrounded by walls and nearby houses.

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