Today is April 13th. On this day, in the year 1919, thousands of Indians, including women and children, gathered together at Jallianwala Bagh in Amritsar. They were there to peacefully protest against the British Raj (rule). All kinds of political gathering were banned by the Punjab government. General Reginald Dyer saw this gathering as an act of defiance against the British Rule. He assembled some 75 soldiers with 50 of them armed and two armored cars with machine guns on a mission to punish the dissenters. Jallianwala Bagh was, and is still, surrounded on all sides by walls and buildings. There is just one narrow entrance and General Dyer blocked that path with his soldiers. He couldn’t take the armored cars inside because of the narrow entrance. As the soldiers faced the crowd, Dyer ordered them to fire. About 1,650 rounds of ammunition were fired that day which killed around 1,500 people. This story is well known to every Indian who has any interest in Indian history.
The last time I went to Amritsar, I visited this place. Bullet marks are still visible on the walls. There is a well on the left hand side of the entrance where hundreds of desperate people jumped during the massacre to save their lives. Every Indian feels a strange shiver when he visits that place, the resting ground of so many innocent people, every one of them with a dream of freedom.
Days after the Jallianwala massacre, the conscience of millions of Indians and even Britishers was shaken. How can anyone be so cruel as to open fire on a peaceful, unarmed gathering with such callousness? This British Raj needed to be uprooted, said the Indians, and the struggle for freedom gained new fire. Many Indians wanted General Dyer dead. They were burning with rage, with desire for vengeance. They wanted to smile again and revel in the spring colors of Baisakhi (a traditional Punjabi festival), but Dyer should be dead first!
Our dream was fulfilled by a brave Indian Sardar (Sikh) named Udham Singh. He is still considered one of the most important and courageous, fire-brand freedom fighters and revolutionaries of India. Udham Singh shot General Dyer (The butcher of Amritsar) in the year 1940 and won the admiration of millions of Indians. We are satisfied and we sit quietly while writing ballads about his bravery.
You know what? That is a blatant lie. Udham Singh never killed General Reginald Dyer. Instead he killed the governor of Punjab at that time, Michael Dwyer. Udham Singh saw Michael Dwyer as the main perpetrator of the massacre. He went to England to kill him and not Dyer. But still many Indians believe that Udham Singh had actually assassinated Dyer. They are oblivious of the truth. Anyone who disbelieves me can check the whole libraries and internet and, if I am proven false, then I will remove my blog.
The other important question here is not whom did Udham Singh kill, the important question is ‘’why do Indians believe that he killed Dyer and not Dwyer? There is even a famous Indian Movie named “Rang De Basanti’’ which depicts the aforementioned false story. That movie was nominated in BAFTA and also received recognition in the Oscars. Why does such a movie not portray truth? Should we assume that the screenplay writers, director, and everyone involved were just a bunch of uneducated fools?
I am here exploring the reason. Maybe so many people believe a lie because of collective wishful thinking. The ego of the Indians at that time and today are hurt by that brutal violation of their human rights. They weren’t even considered humans by the white British. They were draft animals, their children were dangerous and expendable, and their life and their history and culture were considered useless by their rulers. This stink, this pain, this humiliation can only be washed by the blood of that devil: General Reginald Dyer.
People around the world believe in things which make them happy. Believing is seeing, as we are taught in the management school. The Indians believe the death of Dyer and they see history as they want to. If the truth is within their reach, in the form of a book or an internet site, they will avoid it knowingly or say that the truth is a conspiracy. Truth suffers under the prejudice of such emotional and gullible people.
I abhor the actions done by General Dyer. Those people in Jallianwala Bagh were my fellow human beings and I am sympathetic towards them. Morality, ethics, values – all these things are mere words for a society which is robbed of its freedom. The rulers become like a bunch of uncivilized animal where every action is permissible. Udham Singh did that shooting to console his inner self, his ego that was brutally violated when thousands of innocent people were murdered by the British rule.
I do not support violence. In the periods of tyranny and violence, it is easy to lose your sanity and forget humanity. We need to fight through these battles. We need to remain resilient during these times and remember our ideals.
I hope my readers have learned that truth is beyond mere prejudice. You shouldn’t be affirm your version of truth. You must be a skeptic. Do not even take my word for it; research it yourself.