Julian Wala Bagh
In the 89 years of British rule in India, Britain’s only commitment was to loot India and suppress Indians using brutal power. All through history, the nationalists protested against the invasion of their motherland and demanded freedom. Britain adopted strategies at all levels to counter and crush such movements. In 1919, the British government passed the Rowlatt Act, a law that gave unlimited powers to the government such as political cases that can be tried without juries and permitted keeping of suspects without trial. This was implemented based on the recommendations of Rowlett’s committee in1918.
There was a sudden uproar across India against this act. Mahatma Gandhi appealed to the people for peaceful protests across the Nation. On April 13, 1919, a protest meeting was planned by the local people at Amritsar’s Julian Wala Bagh. The day was remarkable as it was Baisakhi, one of Punjab’s biggest festival. Anticipating protests, General Dyer, the acting Commander of Amritsar banned all public gatherings. People ignored general Dyer’s orders and thousands gathered. General Dyer along with a battalion of fully armed soldiers marched toward the venue and blocked all exits. At 5.30 PM General Dyer, without any warning ordered his soldiers to fire at the unarmed crowd. The brutal nature of General Dyre was evident that he ordered his soldiers to focus the firepower to where it was more crowded. It was estimated that around a thousand men, women, and children were killed in that action. Many were killed in the stampede which followed. This cold-blooded massacre by the British boosted the nationalistic spirit among Indians and more massive protests were followed. India ultimately won freedom in 1947. Twenty years after this incident, Udham Singh, who managed to escape from the Julian Walah bagh as a young boy, later turned into a revolutionary and killed Michael O’Dwyer. Michael O’Dwayer was the Governor of Punjab in 1919 who had supported General Dyer’s massacre plan.
The ultimate sacrifice of hundreds of nationalist Indians at Jalin Walah Bagh should always be remembered. It is a gentle reminder to all Indians about the cost at which freedom is enjoyed today.