On 100th anniversary of Jallianwala Bagh massacre, India pays tribute

Mahatma Gandhi

This was stated by Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar in his address to mark 100 years of the Jallianwala Bagh tragedy at a function organised by The Tribune at Bhargava auditorium here today.

The massacre took place on 13 April 1919 when troops of the British Indian Army under the command of Colonel Reginald Dyer fired machine guns into a crowd of unarmed protesters and pilgrims who had gathered in Jallianwala Bagh in Punjab's Amritsar on the occasion of Baisakhi.

In the visitor's book, Rahul wrote that the cost of freedom must never be forgotten.

Dominic Asquith, the United Kingdom's High Commissioner to India, visited the Jallianwala Bagh Memorial in Amritsar on Saturday, and expressed regret for the massacre at the site by British officials 100 years ago.

"We must never forget what happened here".

Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh on Sunday accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of playing "dirty politics" after the PM claimed that the Congress leader skipped an official event marking the Jallianwala Bagh massacre's centenary as he was busy in "Congress parivar's bhakti".

"This was truly shocking considering that the Prime Minister is the chairman of the Jallianwala Bagh Trust", Singh said.

"A 100 years ago today, our beloved freedom fighters were martyred at Jallianwala Bagh".

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The number of casualties from the event, which hardened opposition to colonial rule, is unclear, with colonial-era records showing about 400 deaths, while Indian figures put the number of fatalities in at closer to 1,000. Former prime minister Herbert Asquith called it "one of the worst outrages in the whole of our history".

He said his country regrets "the suffering caused" and "the revulsion that we felt at the time is still strong today".

In Amritsar news that prominent Indian leaders had been arrested and banished from that city sparked violent protests on April 10.

India pays tribute to all those martyred on that fateful day. Many local people tried to escape by scaling the high walls surrounding the garden. Others jumped into an open well at the site.

"Heaps of dead bodies lay there, some on their backs and some with their faces upturned. A number of them were poor innocent children", one witness later recalled.

The massacre became a symbol of colonial cruelty and for decades Indians have demanded an apology from Britain, including during Queen Elizabeth's visit to Amritsar in 1997.

Dyer, dubbed "the butcher of Amritsar", reportedly said later it was a necessary measure, and that the firing was "not to disperse the meeting but to punish the Indians for disobedience".

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