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Remembering Jallianwala Bagh martyrs: How British Raj toyed with the lives of Indians

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Jallianwala_Bagh_Memorial

By Subir Ghosh

In just about a week’s time, the country should observe the 96th anniversary of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre. On the afternoon of April 13, 1919, some 10,000 or more unarmed men, women, and children gathered, along with Baishakhi pilgrims,in the Jallianwala Bagh in Amritsar, Punjab to protest against the arrest of two leaders. An hour after the meeting began, Brigadier-General Reginald Dyer, the military commander of Amritsar, arrived with a group of sixty-five Gurkha and twenty-five Balochi soldiers into the Bagh. Fifty of them were armed with .303 Lee-Enfield bolt-action rifles. Dyer had also brought two armored cars armed with machine guns; however, the vehicles were left outside, as they were unable to enter the Bagh through the narrow entrance.

The Jallianwala Bagh was surrounded on all sides by houses and buildings and had a few narrow entrances. Most of them were kept permanently locked. The main entrance was guarded heavily by the troops backed by the armoured vehicles. Dyer—without warning the crowd to disperse—blocked the main exits. On his orders, the army fired on the crowd for ten minutes, directing their bullets largely towards the few open gates through which people were trying to run out. Dyer ordered his troops to begin shooting toward the densest sections of the crowd. Firing continued for nearly ten minutes. Cease-fire was ordered only when ammunition supplies were almost exhausted, after approximately 1,650 rounds were spent. Many people died in stampedes at the narrow gates or by jumping into the solitary well on the compound to escape the shooting. A plaque placed at the site after independence states that 120 bodies were removed from the well.

Dyer explained later that this act “was not to disperse the meeting but to punish the Indians for disobedience.”

Official sources gave a figure of 379 identified dead, with approximately 1,100 wounded. The casualty number estimated by the Indian National Congress was more than 1,500, with approximately 1,000 dead. Dyer was initially lauded by conservative forces in the empire, but in July 1920 he was censured and forced to retire by the House of Commons. He became a celebrated hero in Britain among most of the people connected to the British Raj, for example, the House of Lords. The poet Rabindranath Tagore, as a mark of protest, renounced his knighthood (the title Sir) that the British Government had conferred on him a few years back. Let us forgive but not forget.

True, Dyer met his nememsis in Udham Singh, the great martyr and revolutionary, in a London street in 1940.

(The writer is a Principal at Bharatiya Vidya Bhaban, Asutosh College of Communication and Management in Kolkata)

  • Note- ten thousand strong crowd. One white English with sixty-five Gurkha and twenty-five Balochi. This is parallel to Sultan Mahmood’s expedition from Gazni (Afghanistan)to India as many as fifteen times and as far Gujrat. This shows total and absolute contempt for any kind of resistance capacity of Indians that gets back to antiquity. Is there any reason to believe that things have changed today. Sheer majority is of no significance since one single hyena is enough to disperse a flock of thousand sheep or one sickly ringmaster is capable of whipping fifty lions in a circus ring. The brutal fact is- the present day Anglophonic Education and training designed for the rich and little education for the poor are creating an equivalent of a flock of sheep who can be dispersed by a single hyena.

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  • Note- ten thousand strong crowd. One white English with sixty-five Gurkha and twenty-five Balochi. This is parallel to Sultan Mahmood’s expedition from Gazni (Afghanistan)to India as many as fifteen times and as far Gujrat. This shows total and absolute contempt for any kind of resistance capacity of Indians that gets back to antiquity. Is there any reason to believe that things have changed today. Sheer majority is of no significance since one single hyena is enough to disperse a flock of thousand sheep or one sickly ringmaster is capable of whipping fifty lions in a circus ring. The brutal fact is- the present day Anglophonic Education and training designed for the rich and little education for the poor are creating an equivalent of a flock of sheep who can be dispersed by a single hyena.

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First Hindu Temple Lays Foundation Stone in Abu Dhabi

The temple will be built in phases with all the pink stones and marble being transported from Rajasthan to the UAE capital, the Khaleej Times said

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abu dhabi, hindu temple
The temple is being built on 13.5 acres (55,000 square metres) of land gifted by Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan to the Indian community. Wikimedia

The historic foundation stone-laying ceremony of the first traditional Hindu temple in Abu Dhabi was performed on Saturday in the presence of officials from India and the United Arab Emirates as well as thousands of members of the community.

The ceremony was presided over by Mahant Swami Maharaj — the spiritual leader of BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha — the organisation building the temple, along with other priests. Indian Ambassador Navdeep Suri attended the event in the presence of over 2,500 Indians from the UAE and across the world, according to Gulf News.

Suri and BAPS Hindu Mandir committee head and community leader B.R. Shetty were among those who laid foundation stones. Some 50 priests from India were part of the ceremony, the Khaleej Times reported.

Crown Prince, abu dhabi, hindu temple
Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan. Wikimedia

UAE’s Minister of Climate Change Thani Al Zoyoudi and Ahmad Bilhoul Al Falasi, Minister of State for Higher Education and Advanced Sciences, were among the attendees.  The temple will be built in phases with all the pink stones and marble being transported from Rajasthan to the UAE capital, the Khaleej Times said.

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The stones of the temple will be hand-carved by artisans in India and then transported to Abu Dhabi. Once completed, this will be the first traditional Hindu stone temple in the Middle East.

The temple is being built on 13.5 acres (55,000 square metres) of land gifted by Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan to the Indian community. (IANS)