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Until the bullets ran out………

March 15, 2010

We have all read about the evil that men can do and, thankfully, most of us just marvel at how a heart can be so black and empty and hard.

In Amritsar, where the Golden Temple is, there is a park. And in that park there was a massacre.

Of course, there was a lot that happened leading up to the massacre – World War I had recently ended. India had sacrificed much in support of Britain during the war (including human and financial resources) and was hoping for more responsibility for its own affairs with the ultimate goal being independence. Ghandi was emerging as a political leader and the country was in civil unrest – especially in Punjab (where Amritsar is located).

In an attempt to maintain stability and based on recommendations set forth by the Sedition Committee, the Rowlatt Act was enforced. This act empowered “the Viceroy’s government with extraordinary powers to quell sedition by silencing the press, including detaining the political activists without trial, arrest without warrant of any individuals suspected of sedition or treason, as well as trial before special tribunals. The passage sparked massive outrage within India.” (thanks Wiki)

The long story, short is that on April 10, 1919, many protesters gathered in front of the Deputy Commissioner’s house in Amritsar. They were demanding the release of two famous leaders of the Indian Independence Movement – Satya Pal and Saifuddin Kitchlew. The crowd was fired on and several protesters were killed. As you can imagine, this set off a chain of violent events to the point that the British rulers imposed martial law and outlawed any gatherings of more than 4 people.

Just a few days later on April 13, thousands of people gathered at the Jallianwala Bagh (a garden park in Amritsar). Just one hour after the meeting began, Brigadier-General Reginald Dyer marched a group of soldiers into the park and ordered them to fire upon the crowd without warning. They only stopped when the bullets ran out. He had also planned to take in machine guns mounted on vehicles but could not get them into the park because of the narrow gates at the park’s entrances.

Dyer later commented that he knew about the gathering and made no attempts to block it or even to disperse the crowds once the meeting began. He planned fully to open fire on the crowd of people and ordered the soldiers to aim for the densest areas of people. He was later quoted as saying, “I think it quite possible that I could have dispersed the crowd without firing but they would have come back again and laughed, and I would have made, what I consider, a fool of myself.”

The estimates of the number of people killed or injured vary widely depending on who you ask – British sources estimate that nearly 400 people were killed – Indian sources put that number much closer to 1,000. Of course, all of the deaths were not a result of gunfire, there were also stampedes as people tried to escape. At any rate, it is hard to understand why things like this happen. How a man can look in to a crowd of men, women, and children and shout “fire” is just beyond me.

Dyer was revered by some and hated by others. I guess it is all a matter of perspective and probably depends mostly on what side of the gun you were on. But it is really very hard to understand how Dyer could close his eyes and sleep at night.

The events in Amritsar are said to have paved the way for Ghandi’s Non-Cooperation Movement.

This is the spot where the soldiers entered and opened fire. They would have been standing on this side of the fountain and shooting toward the people walking in the picture.

This is a wall that still houses holes where bullets landed.

This is the actual monument in memory of those who lost their lives.

This is the eternal flame that burns in memory of the horrific events of that day.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. June 19, 2010 10:53 am

    Finally the Saville report has exonerated the civilians murdered on Bloody Sunday. Our nationalist heroes have referred to the massacre as “our Amritsar massacre”

  2. Chris permalink
    May 28, 2010 3:37 pm

    The moronic Prince Philip and Queen Elizabeth visited Jalianwala Bagh some ten years ago. While being shown aroundthe memorial by his official Indian Government hosts, Prince Philip had the nerve to make a flippant remark to his gracious hosts, ” Oh come now, it wasn’t really as many as 400 people that got killed , was it now ?”

    So, not only has Britain NOT apologized for a horrific massacre of unarmed Indian civilians ( The Jalianwala Bagh massacre is is right up there with any massacre that the Nazis may have carried out, or that the American settlers carried out of the Native Americans), the British Monarch Prince Philip, uneducated moron that he is, actually had the temerity to make such a disgusting remark to his Indian hosts.

    How would the West like it if an Indian was being shown around the Holocaust Memorial, and the Indian went , ” Oh come now. Really ? I mean, six Million Jews killed ? Are you sure ? ”

    The sad truth is that the White Man has much innocent blood on his hands, be it the American Settlers and Slave-Owners in America, the White Settlers (Boers) in South Africa, the White Settlers in Australia, or the Portuguese Colonizers in Goa, the Spanish Conquistadores in South America, etc.

    Read up about the Goa Inquisition, committed by the Catholic Portuguese upon the gentle Hindu natives of Goa, India – it makes Hitler look like an amateur school-boy.

    It will take many centuries for all of this Bad Karma to be neutralized by an equivalent amount of Good Karma. Gaining a knowledge of world history, however painfful that knowledge may be, is the first step towards erasing the Bad Karma.

  3. Mukunthan permalink
    April 18, 2010 3:32 am

    I really love your post on this. It’s notable that either 400 or 1000 isn’t just number but lives. That too lives of civilians – men, women, children…
    And this gave rise to patriots like Bhagat Singh, who said, we being hung, is not an ending… but is the very beginning for the decline of the colonial rulers, when he and his allies were sentenced to death.

  4. Patricia permalink
    March 15, 2010 9:33 pm

    This has happened in so many country throughout the years as people join together to seek their independence. One would think leaders would learn to murder is not the way, but murder and mass murder continues to this day. How very, very sad!

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