India remembers Jallianwala Bagh massacre

Last Updated: Fri, Apr 13, 2012 09:01 hrs

India on Friday is observing the 93rd anniversary of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre where a British Brigadier-General ordered soldiers to open fire on a crowd in a public garden in Amritsar, Punjab killing up to a thousand people, in one of the most tragic incidents in the country's colonial history.

Also known as the Amritsar massacre, the incident took place in the Jallianwala Bagh public garden in the northern Indian city of Amritsar, and was ordered by Brigadier-General Reginald E H Dyer on Sunday April 13, 1919.

Dyer, convinced that a major insurrection was at hand, banned all meetings, and hearing that about 15,000 to 20,000 people had assembled in the garden, he marched his fifty riflemen to a raised bank and ordered them to shoot at the crowd which included men, women, and children.

The mixed crowd drawn from Hindu, Sikh and Muslim communities had gathered at the Jallianwala Bagh to register their protest British persecution of Indians and listen to the speeches of their leaders.

Dyer kept the firing up for about ten minutes. Official Government of India sources estimated the fatalities at 379, with 1,100 wounded. The casualty number estimated by the Indian National Congress was more than 1,500, with approximately 1,000 killed.

Dyer was removed from duty and forced to retire, but he became a celebrated hero in Britain among people with connections to the British Raj, though historians consider the episode a decisive step towards the end of British rule in India.

The massacre caused a reevaluation of the Army´s role in which the new policy became minimum force, and the Army was retrained and developed suitable tactics such as crowd control.

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