The Amritsar massacre, popularly known as the Jallianwala Bagh massacre, was a watershed moment in India’s independence war. April 13, 1919, is still remembered as the darkest day in Indian history, even after 100 years. Today marks the 103rd anniversary of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre, which occurred during the Baisakhi celebration.
Peaceful protest at the Jallianwala Bagh turned into massive violence after General Reginald Dyer ordered his troops to start firing which led to the deaths of hundreds of people and injuring over thousands of people.
What led to the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre in 1919?
On March 10, 1919, the Rowlatt Act (Black Act) was passed, allowing the government to detain or confine anybody suspected of seditious acts without a trial. This resulted in widespread unrest. To oppose the Rowlatt Act, Gandhi started the Satyagraha movement.
The British authorities debated what action to take against Gandhi and any other Satyagraha activists. Gandhi was forbidden from visiting Punjab, and if he disobeyed the orders, he would be arrested. On Ram Navami Day, April 9, 1919, O’ Dwyer issued instructions to Deputy Commissioner Irving to arrest Dr. Satyapal and Dr. Kitchlew.
Thousands of people gathered in the Jallianwala Bagh to commemorate Baisakhi and peacefully protest the arrests of two prominent politicians, Satyapal and Saifuddin Kitchlew. However, public meetings and processions were prohibited, which the locals were unaware of.
What happened in Jallianwala Bagh Massacre?
On April 13, at least 10,000 men, women, and children assembled in the Jallianwala Bagh, which was pretty much fully surrounded by walls and had only one exit. It’s unclear how many protesters violated the restriction on public gatherings and how many people had traveled to the city from the surrounding region to celebrate Baisakhi, a spring festival.
Dyer and his men arrived and locked the door behind them. The forces opened fire on the gathering without warning, allegedly firing hundreds of bullets until they ran out of bullets. It’s unknown how many people died in the tragedy, but according to an official source, 379 people were killed, and about 1,200 wounded.
The troops fled from the spot as soon as they stopped the fire, leaving the dead and injured behind. Following the shooting, Punjab declared martial law, which included public floggings and other humiliations.