Info on Jallianwala Bagh Massacre

This information was kept on display at the Entrance of Museum, Jallianwala Bagh, Amritsar India itself. For more info refer Wikipedia link on Jallianwala Bagh (

Jallianwala Bagh Massacre (Apr. 13, 1919)

World War I was about to conclude and India was in Ferment. In August 1917, E.S. Montagu, The Secretary of State for India, had declared on behalf of the British Government to grant responsible government to India within British Empire. The war came to an end on 11th November, 1918. On 6th February 1919, Rowlatt bills were introduced  by the British Government in the Imperial Legislative Council, and one of the bills was passed into an Act in March 1919.Under this Act, people suspected of so called sedition could be imprisoned without trial. The resulted in frustration among the people of India and there was great unrest. While people were expecting freedom, they suddenly discovered that their chains were being strengthened. At that time, Punjab was  governed by a reactionary, Lt. Governor, Sir Michael O’Dwyer, who had contempt for educated Indians. During the war he had adopted unscrupulous methods for collecting war funds, press-gang techniques for raising recruits, and had gagged the press. He truly ruled Punjab with an iron hand.

At this juncture, Mahatma Gandhi decided to launch a Satyagraha campaign. The unique form of political struggle eschewed violence, was open, and relied on truth and righteousness. It emphasized that means were important as the ends. The city of Amritsar responded to Mahatma’s call by observing a hartal (strike) on 6th April 1919. On the 9th April on Ram Naumi festival, a procession was taken out, in which Hindus and Muslims had participated, giving proof of thier unity, and the government ordered the arrest of Dr. Saifuddin Kitchlu and Dr. Satyapal, popular leaders of the people of Amritsar. They were deported to Dharamsala where they were interned.

On the 10th April, as people wanted to meet the Deputy Commissioner to demand the release of the two arrested leaders, they were fired upon. This angered people and disorder broke out in Amritsar, some bank buildings were sacked, telegram and railway communications were snapped, and three Britishers were murdered and one woman injured.

Chaudhri Bugga Mal, a leader, was arrested on 12th April, and Mahasha Rattan Chand, a piece-goods broker and a popular leader, a few days later. This created great resentment among the people of Amritsar.

On 11th April, Brigadier General R.E.H. Dyer arrived from Jullunder Cantonment, and virtually occupied the town as civil administration under Miles Irving, the Deputy Commissioner, had come to a standstill.

On 13th April 1919, the Baisakhi day, a public meeting was announced to be held in Jallianwala Bagh in the evening. Dyer came to Jallianwala Bagh with a force of 150 troops. They took up their positions on an elevated groundd towards the main entrance, a narrow lane in which hardly two men could walk abreast. At six minutes to sunset they opened fire on a crowd of about 20,000 people without giving any warning. A massacre was perpretated, the likes of which has no parallel in history in barbarousness and cruelty. Arthur Swinson this describes the massacre:

“Towards the exits on either flank, the crowds converged in thier frantic effort to get away, jostling, clambering, elbowing and trampling over each other. Seeing this movement, Briggs frew Dyer’s attention to it, and Dyer, mistakenly imagining that these sections of the crowd were getting ready to rush him, directed the fire of the troops straight at them. The result was harrow: men screamed and went down, to be trampled by those coming after. Some were hit again and again. In places the dead and wounded lay in heaps; men would go down wounded, to find themselves immediately buried beneath a dozen others.”

The firing still went on. Hundreds abandoning all hope of getting away through the exits, tried the walls which in places were five feet high and at others, seven or ten. Fighting for a position, they ran at them, clutching at the smooth surfaces, trying frantically to get hold. Some people almost reached the top to be pulled down by those fighting behind them. Some, more agile than the rest, succeeded in getting away, but many more were shot as they clambered up, and some as they sat poised on the top before leaping down on the further side.

Twenty thousand people were caught beneath the hail of bullets; all of them trying to escape from the quiet meeting-place which had suddenly become a screaming hell.

Some of those who endured it gave thier guess as a quarter of an hour. Dyer thought probably 10 minutes; but from the no. of rounds fired it may not have been longer than six. In that time 337 men, 41 boys, and a baby seven weeks old had been killed, and 1500 men and boys wounded.

The whole Bagh was filled with the sound of sobbing and moaning and the voices of people calling for help.

The flame lighted at Jallianwala Bagh; ultimately set the whole of India aflame. It is a landmark in India’s struggle for Freedom. It gave great impetus to Satyagraha Movement, which ultimately won freedom for India on 15th August, 1947.

Though Dyer claimed that he had nipped a revolution by his drastic action, he never had sound sleep after the Massacre. He died on July 23, 1927 and buried at the Church of St. Martins in the fields of London. Udham Singh, who, with oother shots, wounded Lord Zetland, the Secretary of State for India, a former Governor of Bombay, Lord Lemington, and Sir Louis Dane, a former Lieutenant Governor of Punjab, was sentenced death.

The Jallianwala Bagh area once belonged to Bhai Hamit Singh Jallawalia, a vakil(advocate) of Raja Jaswant Singh of Nabha, at the court of Maharaja Ranjit Singh. It had ceased to be a garden long ago, and was used as a dumping ground. On all sides were the back walls of houses. Within this area were mounds of rubbish, a dilapidated smadh and a well. It was five and a half feet below the level of the adjoining public streets. Situated in the heart of the town, it was surrounded by narrow, crooked lanes.

It was decided to acquire the Jallianwala Bagh and raise a national memorial. A Committee was formed with Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya as President and Dr. S.C. Mukherji as Secretary. The Jallianwala Bagh Trust was registered in 1920. Jallianwala Bagh was purchased from its thirty four owners for 5,65,000 in 1923. The National Memorial Trust of which Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru was the chairman, decided to have a suitable design for the memorial. Designs were invited from architects. A design jointly prepared by Messrs T. R. Mehandru and Benjamin Polk in 1956.

The Bagh beign a depression, the level was raised by five and half feet to that of the road outside. Four stone lanterns flank the 45 ft. high Red Stone Pylon, which represents a flame. It is composed of pieces of red stone obtained from Dholpur quarries, and the base and the plith are of blocks of granite bought from Bangalore quarries. Fourteen stone lanterns scattered over the site provide subdued lighting. At the entrance to the garden is an open terrace about 60 x 100 ft. made of Kotah stone. This was the spot from which the soldiers opened fire. The terrace is flanked by two loggias 130×12-9. The columns of the loggia are studded with Asoka chakras. The entire work was completed at a cost of Rs. 12 lakhs. The memorial was inaugurated by the President, Dr. Rajendra Prasad on 13th April 1961, in the presence of a large gathering including Prime Minister, Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru.


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