Ratan Devi (Heroes of Jallianwala Bagh)

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Ratan Devi

Ratan Devi, widow of Chhaju Bhagat spent the night of 13th April, 1919 in the Jallianwala Bagh, she thus narrates her experience.

” I was in my house near Jallianwala Bagh when I heard the shots fired. I was then lying down. I got up at once as I was axious, because my husband had gone to the Bagh. I began to cry, and went to the place accompanied by two women to help me. There I saw heaps of dead bodies and I began to search for my husband. After passing through that heap, I found the dead body of my husband. The way towards it was fulll of blood and of dead bodies. After a short time, both the sons of Lala Sunder came there; and i asked them to bring a charpai (cot) to carry the dead body of my husband home. The boys accordingly went home and I sent away the two women also. By this time, it was eight o’clock and no one could stir out of his house, because of the curfew order. I stood waiting and crying. At about 8:30p.m. a Sikh gentleman came. There were others who were looking for someone amongst the dead. I did not know them. I entreated the Sikh gentleman to help me in removing my husband’s body to a dry place, for that place was overflowing with blood. He caught the body by the head and I by the legs, and we carried it to a dry place and laid it down on a wooden block. I waited up to 10 p.m. but no one arrived there. I got up and started downwards Katra Ahluwalia. I thought of asking some students from the Thakurdwara to help me in carrying my husband home. I had not gone far, when some man sitting in a window in an adjacent house asked me where I was going at that late hour. I said, I wanted some men to carry my husband’s dead body home. He said, he was attending a wounded man and as it was past 8 p.m. nobody could help me then. Then I started towards Katra and another man asked me the same question. I made the same appeal to him and he gave  me the same answer. i had gone hardly three or four steps, when i saw an old man smoking and some people sleeping by his side. I repeated the whole sad story to him with hands folded. He took great pity upon me and asked those men to go with me. They said that it was ten o’clock, and that they would not like to be shot down. That was no time to stir out; how could they go out so far? So I went back and seated myself by the side of my husband. Accidently, I found a bamboo stick which I kept in my hands to keep off dogs. I saw three men writhing in agony, a buffalo struggling in pain; and a boy, about twelve years old, in agony entreated me not to leave the place. I told him that I could not go anywhere leaving the dead body of my husband. I asked him if he wanted any wrap, and if he was feeling cold, I could spread it over him. But he asked for water, but water could not be procured at that place”.

” I heard the clock striking at regular intervals of one hour. At two o’clock, a Jat, belonging to Sultan Village, who was lying entangled in a wall, asked me to go near him and to raise his leg. I got up and, taking hold of his clothes, drenched in blood, raised the leg up. After that, no one else came till half past five. At about six, L. Sunder Dass, his sons and some people from my street came with a charpai, and I bought my husband home. I saw other people at the Bagh in search of thier relatives. I passed my whole night there. It was impossible for me to describe what I felt. Heaps of dead bodies lay there, some on thier backs and some with thier faces upturned. A number of them were poor innocent children. I shall never forget the sight. I was all alone the whole night in that solitary jungle. Nothing but the barking dogs, or the braying of donkeys was audible. Amidst hundreds of corpses, I passed my night, crying and watching. I cannot say more. What I experienced that night is known only to me and to God. “

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