Also known as the Amritsar Massacre, the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre is a massive tragedy that took place on the 13th of April, in the year 1919. On this day that year, the Sikh festival of Baisakhi, marking the Sikh New Year as well as the beginning of the spring harvest season was being observed, and hence, a list of Baisakhi pilgrims, alongside nonviolent protestors, had gathered in the Jallianwala Bagh located in Amritsar. While the pilgrims were mostly unaware of the martial law imposed there as they were from outside, the nonviolent Sikh citizens were protesting against it, completely unaware that they were all going to be fired upon.
The colonial troops under the order of Colonel Reginald Dyer started open firing on the crowd, wreaking havoc on the entire nation, marking a day of tragedy, inhumanness, brutality and no mercy, as around 1000 people ended up dead and more than 500 were severely injured.
On Dyer’s command, the firing went on for around 10 minutes until the whole ammunition supply of the colonial troops were completely empty. Post this tragedy, Dyer lost his vote from the House of Commons in British Raj, whereas he gained votes of heroism from the House of Lords. Since the event showcased brutality at its worst, the faith of people on the Army dwindled and hence, the army was amended and modified with tactics of less violence when needed for controlling crowds.
In 1997, long after India’s independence, Queen Elizabeth II visited the spot and paid tribute to the souls gone in the massacre by removing her shoes, donning a saffron colored outfit that is significant for the Sikhs and observed a thirty seconds moment of silence. Her gesture was received well by some, while others criticized it wholeheartedly saying this could never mean an apology to what her people did to the thousands of Sikhs and their families in that massacre. At that point of time, Inder Kumar Gujral was the prime minister of India and he defended the queen completely, saying she wasn’t even born at the time this massacre took place and hence, she didn’t need to apologize.
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