On every Punjabis bucket list of pilgrimages after paying obeisance at the Golden Temple, Amritsar is the Jallianwala Bagh situated in close proximity. Despite the non descriptive signage the tragedy that occurred there had far reaching implications. It gave a massive thrust to the national movement and exacerbated the acrimony between the rulers and the ruled. The simmering discontent and unrest amidst the Indian people escalated. It was during this period that an active revolutionary movement was brewing in Punjab and Bengal. The civil disobedience movement was spreading throughout India under the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi whose popularity was soaring, on account of his personal charisma. A sedition committee in 1918 chaired by Sydney Rowlatt an English judge on whose recommendations the Rowlatt act was passed, an extension of the Defense of India Act of 1915. This curbed civil liberties and sabotaged the right of appeal to Indians. This precipitated large scale political unrest and everywhere there was slogan shouting – ‘No Vakil, No Daleel, No Appeal’. Gandhi’s call for protest against the act led to a sudden deterioration of law and order with a disruption in rail and telegraph services.
In Amritsar, over 5,000 people gathered at Jallianwala Bagh, to celebrate the auspicious occasion of Baisakhi. The British Governor of Punjab, Michael O Dwyer suspected these were the symptoms of a well planned conspiracy. Two prominent leaders had been arrested, Satyapal and Saiffudin Kitchlew. Mobs protested and attacked British banks and two British women were assaulted. Violence spread and by April 13, 1919 the British government imposed martial law in Punjab. The legislation restricted several civil liberties and gatherings of more than four people were banned. On the Baisakhi Day, General Dyer the acting military commander for Amritsar heard of a plan at the Bagh, thousands of Punjabis (Muslims, Sikhs and Hindus) had gathered at the site. An hour after the meeting began, Dyer arrived with his troops and without any warning for the crowds to disperse blocked the main exits. Dyer then ordered.
Commemorating the 100th year of the massacre we salute the martyrs who layed down their lives and to all Punjabis who have suffered. Watch on 13 April at 11 AM and 4 PM only on PTC Punjabi Channel.
PTC News also is hosting a special show discussing about Jallianwala sacrifice relevant today, what was its history and what is the plight of victims’ families. Don’t forget to tune into PTC News on April 12 at 7:00 pm (IST) to watch an engaging discussion of historically relevant issues.
Also see : 100 years of Jallianwala Bagh Special show