Jallianwala Bagh massacre will always be remembered as one of the most heinous, inhuman incidents of India's pre-Independence era.
Jallianwala Bagh massacre will always be remembered as one of the most heinous, inhuman incidents of India’s pre-Independence era. The massacre that left thousands dead etched Colonel Reginald Dyer’s name in Indian history as one of the most hated personalities. The incident took place on Sunday, April 13, 1919 when Punjabis were celebrating their traditional festival of Baisakhi. Dyer led 90 British Indian Army troopers who fired indiscriminately at 20,000 innocent, unarmed civilians.
The incident sparked widespread anger in the then British-ruled India. While Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore had returned his knighthood, Mahatma Gandhi had called for country-wide protests. The event was termed as the catalyst which influenced and encouraged patriots like Bhagat Singh to raise their voice against the British Raj.
Dyer, who had earned the nickname of “The Butcher of Amritsar”, however remained unperturbed by the reactions and criticism. Dyer was born in Murree, which is now located in Pakistan. He went on to serve the British Army. However, following the Jallianwala Bagh massacre, Winston Churchill wanted to discipline him but the British Army Council allowed him to resign without any sanction or punishment.
Dyer was in exile during the later part of his life. However, the last days of this powerful general did bring more pain than bliss to him. It has been written that he had suffered a series of strokes and his fragile health forced him to remain isolated due to speechlessness and paralysis. Finally, he died of arteriosclerosis and haemorrhage in 1927. He breathed his last in Long Ashton, Somerset.
Through out his life, Dyer maintained that what he did on that fateful day was correct. However, his reported statement on deathbed reveals that that he was seeking an answer from the Almighty over the righteousness in his actions and the brutality he perpetrated upon the innocents who were there at Jallianwala Bagh on that fateful day. According to a book titled ‘The Butcher of Amritsar: General Reginald Dyer’ by Nigel Collett, Dyer reportedly said, “So many people who knew the condition of Amritsar say I did right…but so many others say I did wrong. I only want to die and know from my Maker whether I did right or wrong.”