Jallianwalla Bagh – May 28, 2007
PHOTO CAPTIONS (6)
1) Jallianwalla Bagh Memorial In Amritsar
2) An Outline Of The Events Of April 13, 1919
3) The Narrow Passage Into The Bagh (Garden)
4) The Inscription In The Passage
5) Bullet Holes On The Shrine At The Opposite End Of The Bagh
6) The Martyr's Well Where 120 Bodies Were Discovered
KAPOORS ON THE ROAD
I first heard about the massacre at Jallianwalla Bagh when I started reading books on India, many, many years ago. It is a place I always knew I would visit when I finally reached Amritsar. The incident is featured in the movie Gandhi by director Richard Attenborough. It is almost mentioned several times in the fabulous BBC mini-series "The Jewel In the Crown", based on the books "The Raj Quartet" by Paul Scott. If you are interested in Indian history, especially as it concerns the fight for independence from British Rule, I think that you will enjoy seeing these films. I believe the "The Jewel In the Crown" is available at Sneak Preview, Movie Studio and/or Alternative Video in Edmonton. Editor's Note: Be warned, there are at least 13 episodes!!
The Rowlatt Act (1919) gave emergency powers to the British authorities in order for them to imprison Indians without trial, on charges of sedition. Naturally, the Indian nationals were outraged, they had been raised on the tradition of British justice, and one-day strikes were called. Unfortunately, riots and looting broke out and some British citizens were killed.
On May 13, 1919 (Baisaki Day - the Harvest Festival in the Punjab), 20,000 people gathered in the walled, open area in the centre of Amritsar. It was a peaceful demonstration, those gathered there were unarmed. General Dyer, along with 150 troops entered though a narrow alley, the only access to the open space, and without warning, opened fire on the crowd. There was no escape from the high-walled enclosure. After twenty minutes of heavy shooting, 337 men, 41 boys and one baby were dead and 1,500 were wounded. Many people tried to escape the fuselage by jumping into a well in the clearing. No one was allowed into the area until the following morning, there was a curfew during the night hours. When rescuers arrived, they found 120 bodies in the well.
Gandhi was appalled at the slaughter of innocent protesters and called for country-wide civil disobedience. It was not until August 15, 1947 that India gained its independence from British rule, and this is just one of many trials India faced before becoming the most populous democracy in the world. Amritsar Massacre
A beautiful memorial garden has been constructed in the open area in Jallianwalla Bagh ("bagh" means "garden"). Parts of the small shrine that existed in 1919 has been preserved and bullet holes are well-marked. The well is dry now, but is still a very solemn spot to stand and observe. There is a small museum with photographs of several prominent Indians whose lives figured largely in the events. For me, the most moving quotation was from a woman who was the only person who managed to sneak into the site of the massacre to find the body of her husband. No one else dared enter to assist in the rescue of the wounded for fear of more reprisals. This woman sat alone through the long night beside the body of her husband, listening to the suffering and calls from the dying.