The Jallianwala Bagh massacre, also known as the Amritsar massacre, took place on 13 April 1919 when troops of the British Indian Army under the command of Colonel Reginald Dyer fired rifles into a crowd of Baishakhi pilgrims, who had gathered in Jallianwala Bagh, Amritsar, Punjab. The civilians, in the majority Sikhs, had assembled to participate in the annual Baisakhi celebrations, a religious and cultural festival for Punjabi people and also to condemn the arrest and deportation of two national leaders, Satya Pal and Dr Saifuddin Kitchlew. Coming from outside the city, many may have been unaware of the imposition of martial law some time earlier.
The Jallianwalla Bagh is a public garden of 6 to 7 acres (28,000 m2), walled on all sides with five entrances. To enter, troops first blocked the entry by a tank and locked the exit. On Dyer’s orders, his troops fired on the crowd for ten minutes, directing their bullets largely towards the few open gates through which people were trying to flee. The British Government released figures stating 379 dead and 1,200 wounded. Other sources place the number of dead at well over 1,000. This “brutality stunned the entire nation”, resulting in a “wrenching loss of faith” of the general public in the intentions of the UK. The ineffective inquiry and the initial accolades for Dyer by the House of Lords fuelled widespread anger, leading to the Non-cooperation Movement of 1920–22.
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