96 years have been passed when the black day in the Indian history first occurred. On 13th April 1919 thousand were protesting in Jallianwala Bagh on the day of Baisakhi festival. Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs side by side chanting slogans against the oppressors.
General Dyer was given the charge of Amritsar around that time and he had given orders prohibiting any public gathering in the city. Still ignoring the orders 10,000 people gathered demanding freedom.
The garden was surrounded by walls with a narrow passage for entrance. General Dyer with soldiers closed the only passage for entrance and ordered the soldiers to shoot at people without warning.
The soldiers fired 10 – 15 minutes till their ammunition was exhausted. More than 1650 bullets were fired leaving over 1000 people dead though the official figures were 450 death.
In protest of this Rabindranath Tagore returned his ‘Sir’ title given by Britishers and Gandhiji his ‘Sher-i-hind’ title. After the wide criticism around India Dyer was removed from his command by British Government and ‘Hunter Commission’ formed for the inquiry of the event.
The question asked to Dyer were as follows which reveals the mental status of him during that time.
Sir Chimanlal Setalvad, a lawyer from Bharuch, Gujarat, who lived in Bombay conducted this particular part of the cross-examination.
Chimanlal Setalvad: “You took two armoured cars with you?”
Chimanlal Setalvad: “Those cars had machine guns?”
Chimanlal Setalvad: “And when you took them you meant to use the machine guns against the crowd, did you?”
Dyer: “If necessary. If the necessity arose, and I was attacked, or anything else like that, I presume I would have used them.”
Chimanlal Setalvad: “When you arrived there you were not able to take the armoured cars in because the passage was too narrow?”
Chimanlal Setalvad: “Supposing the passage was sufficient to allow the armoured cars to go in, would you have opened fire with the machine guns?”
Dyer: “I think, probably, yes.”
Chimanlal Setalvad: “In that case, the casualties would have been very much higher?”
Chimanlal Setalvad: “And you did not open fire with the machine guns simply by the accident of the armoured cars not being able to get in?”
Dyer: “I have answered you. I have said that if they had been there the probability is that I would have opened fire with them.”
Chimanlal Setalvad: “I take it that your idea of taking that action was to strike terror?”
Dyer: “Call it what you like. I was going to punish them. My idea from the military point of view was to make a wide impression.”
Chimanlal Setalvad: “To strike terror not only in the city of Amritsar but throughout the Punjab?”
Dyer: “Yes, throughout the Punjab. I wanted to reduce their morale; the morale of the rebels.”
Dyer confessed it in front of Lord Hunter that he fired at the crowd without warning. The reports claimed that General Dyer acted in a gruesome manner and should be liable for his acts.
The then Viceroy in India, Lord Chelmsford stated that Dyer acted in an irresponsible manner and no reasonable person with a sound state of mind would have done that.
Dyer returned to Britain in disgrace.
Today, Jallianwala Bagh is a tourist spot in Amritsar. There are still walls with bullet marks, the well in which people jumped to save themselves from bullets and also a museum dedicated to those brave fighters.
This day remind us of where we came from and what have we faced getting this independence.
By- Parul Kulshrestha