Jallianwala Bagh massacre: Here's what happened 102 years ago
The Jallianwala Bagh massacre, in which several hundreds of people were killed on this day in 1919 as a result of indiscriminate firing by the colonial forces, completed 102 years on Tuesday. The Britishers had banned gatherings at the time and to punish civilians for their 'disobedience', Brigadier-General Reginald Dyer ordered the army to fire into a crowd of thousands of unarmed Indians who had come together to celebrate the festival of Baisakhi, unaware of the order.
The colonial troops entered Jallianwala Bagh in Punjab's Amritsar and blocked the main entrance behind them to ensure nobody could flee before opening fire on the crowd for about 10 minutes. Many jumped into a well in a desperate attempt to save themselves as the soldiers showered bullets at them.
While the official figure released by the British claimed that a little over 350 people were killed in the massacre, the Congress party claimed that the number was as high as 1,000.
The only punishment that Dyer, who was lauded for his actions by some in Britain but criticised by the others, had to face was being removed from his post and denied promotion. He was also barred from being deployed in India further.
Amid growing demand for an apology for the massacre, former British Prime Minister Theresa May expressed “regret” over the incident. She called the incident a "shameful scar" on British Indian history but stopped short of tendering an apology.
In 2019, more than 100 years after the massacre, British High Commissioner to India Dominic Asquith visited the Jallianwala Bagh National Memorial and paid tribute to those killed.
“The events of Jallianwala Bagh 100 years ago today reflect a shameful act in British-Indian history. We deeply regret what happened and the suffering caused. I am pleased today that the UK and India have and remain committed to developing further a thriving 21st century partnership,” Asquith noted in the visitors’ book at the memorial.