Tuesday, November 25, 2008

13th April 1919


Udham Singh had told the court at his trial: "I did it because I had a grudge against him. He deserved it. He was the real culprit. He wanted to crush the spirit of my people, so I have crushed (sic) him. For full 21 years, I have been trying to wreak vengeance. I am happy that I have done the job. I am not scared of death. I am dying for my country. I have seen my people starving in India under the British rule. I have protested against this, it was my duty. What a greater honor could be bestowed on me than death for the sake of my motherland "

Singh was hanged for the murder on July 31, 1940. Jawahar Lal Nehru applauded Udham Singh in 1952 with the following statement which had appeared in the daily Partap: "I salute Shaheed-i-Azam Udham Singh with reverence who had kissed the noose so that we may be free".

O'Dwyer's killing marked the end of a chain of events that began, in a sense, at 4:30 p.m. on April 13, 1919, when Brigadier General Reginald Dyer opened fire on an unarmed gathering in Jallianwala Bagh.


On April 13, 1919, a multitude of Punjabis gathered in Amritsar's Jallianwala Bagh as part of the Sikh Festival "Baisakhi fair" and to protest at these extraordinary measures. The throng, penned in a narrow space smaller than Trafalgar Square, had been peacefully listening to the testimony of victims when Dyer appeared at the head of a contingent of British troops. Giving no word of warning, he ordered 50 soldiers to fire into the gathering, and for 10 to 15 minutes 1,650 rounds of ammunition were unloaded into the screaming, terrified crowd, some of whom were trampled by those desperately trying to escape.

Amritsar Massacre

Here is what Dwyer had to say.

''I think it quite possible that I could have dispersed the crowd without firing but they would have come back again and laughed, and I would have made, what I consider, a fool of myself.'' ......Dyer's response to the Hunter Commission Enquiry

General Dyer said he would have used his machine guns if he could have got them into the enclosure, but these were mounted on armoured cars. He said he did not stop firing when the crowd began to disperse because he thought it was his duty to keep firing until the crowd dispersed, and that a little firing would do no good.

He confessed he did not take any steps to attend to the wounded after the firing. ''Certainly not. It was not my job. Hospitals were open and they could have gone there,'' came his pathetic response.

AND the one and only CHURCHILL could have said it.

"The Indians were 'packed together so that one bullet would drive through three or four bodies'; the people 'ran madly this way and the other. When fire was directed upon the centre, they ran to the sides. The fire was then directed to the sides. Many threw themselves down on the ground, and the fire was then directed on the ground. This was continued for eight or ten minutes, and it stopped only when the ammunition had reached the point of exhaustion".....Winston Churchill

Can you detect a word of remorse or condemnation ???


The atrocity was ardently backed by the missionaries - the massacre at Jallianwala Bag. Indeed, Ms Marcella Sherwood, speaking on behalf of the Church of England Zenana Missionary Society and Rev Canon Guildford, speaking on behalf of the Church Missionary Society, lauded Gen Dyer's brutality,saying it was "justified by its results".

The Christian Missionary Review, described Gen Dyer as a "brave man". Yeah, a man who showed his "bravery" against unarmed, peaceful men, women and children who had assembled to observe a holi day.

This incredibly, made him a martyr to millions of Englishmen. Senior British officers applauded his suppression of 'another Indian Mutiny.' The House of Lords passed a measure commending him. The Conservatives presented him with a jeweled sword inscribed "Saviour of the Punjab." (Saviour of Punjab from Punjabis?)



A young Sikh teenager named Udham Singh saw the happenings with his own eyes. He vowed to avenge the Amritsar massacre.

On 13 March 1940 at 4.30 p.m. in the Caxton Hall, London, where a meeting of the East India Association was being held in conjunction with the Royal Central Asian Society, Udham Singh fired five to six shots from his pistol at Sir Michael O'Dwyer, who was governor of the Punjab when the Amritsar Massacre had taken place, to avenge the massacre. He actually wanted to have revenge on O'Dyer, but killed O'Dwyer. But both were the culprits of that black day.

On the 31st July, 1940, Udham Singh was hanged at Pentonville jail, London

"He was the real culprit. He deserved it. He wanted to crush the spirit of my people, so I [had to] crush him." Udham Singh, telling the trial court why he killed Michael O'Dwyer.

image"The impossible men of India shall rise and liberate their Motherland" -- Mahatma Gandhi, after the Amritsar Massacre.

The prophecy was fulfilled within a generation's time.

The effects were profound indeed. Till then the Congress Party was demanding Home Rule. But this incident steeled it into demanding full independence. The people were galvanized across the nation, and the British had a tough time. During WWII, the things reached a head and large scale revolts by the Indian soldiers sealed the fate of the empire.

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