All around India, you can witness the forgotten reminiscences of the dark barbarous colonial era the region witnessed. There are countless abominable oppressive acts against the indigenous people during this atramentous times when, as the sources suggest, more than 35 million people died. However, one of these specific acts that stands out, is the Jallianwalan Bagh massacre in Amritsar. It is one of the few incidents that was so corpulent that it sends shivers down the spine when one visits the memorial site of the place, one of the few memorials of the British colonial atrocities.
The Jallianwala Bagh is a public garden in the city of Amritsar that now houses the memorial that commemorates massacring of hundreds of innocent unarmed people, including women and children by the Brigadier General called Dyer of the British Raj (British rule over India). The incident later came to be known as the Jallianwala Bagh massacre, that ended up in deaths of more than four hundred people; leaving thousands of others wounded. However, contrary to the British sources, it is claimed that more than a thousand people were killed and even more wounded. The victims had gathered in the Jallianwala Bagh on the occasion of the Punjabi New Year (called ‘Baishakhi’) to hold a peaceful protest against the arrest and deportation of two national leaders. General Dyer blocked the main entrance and opened fire at the peaceful protest, firing more than fifteen hundred rounds on unarmed civilians.
The Jallianwala Bagh still holds accounts for the heinous crime carried out by General Dyer. Ironically, he was lauded for his actions in Britain and was deemed a hero by many in the British Raj. However, the Jallianwala Bagh memorial tells other tales. A walk through the Jallianwala Bagh opens up the wounds from the horrific incident as one can witness the bullet marks on the walls of the Bagh. The helplessness of the peaceful protesters can be felt in the water well in the Bagh. More than a hundred bodies were recovered from the well after the massacre, as many destitute civilians jumped into the well hoping to avoid death. Even though the memorial has an eerie feeling owing to its dark past, these memorials need to be visited for us to remind us of the oppression, exploitation and brutal injustice that occurred not so long ago in history.
It is important that the sacrifice of the thousands of peaceful protesters does not go in vain. History, no matter how tyrannical or spiteful, can at the least mark a lesson for the future. The memorial stands not just to remind us of the dreadful extent humanity can and has plunged to, but also to withhold the idea of freedom that those people laid their lives for. The irony that Jallianwala Bagh in Amritsar holds is that a memorial for colonial atrocities can also serve as a symbol for the non-violent and peaceful struggle for people around the world against tyranny. Sadly, it is still imperative in the contemporary world, even one hundred years after.
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