In the mids of pandemic lets remember the significant days from the Indian History. Being a DograPunjabi hailing from Punjab district of Amritsar, Baisakhi festival – the Solar New Year and also spring harvest festival for Hinduism and Sikhs, that usually falls on 13th or 14th April is a significant festival for us. Although I’m now a Malayalee – Keralite after my marriage but in our home we follow both the traditions to ensure our children understand the different hindu cultures of both parents. I come from the family roots of farmers and Army personnel and also both my grandparents (maternal & paternal) were part of the partition as they migrated to Amirtsar from the regions of State of Punjab that was given away to now Pakistan.
Here is the story I have heard from childhood from my grandparents and also some of the proofs are found in wikipedia.
It was a day before Baisakhi and people along with their families including kids went to Jallianwala Bagh (a community garden closer to Golden Temple) little did they know what was awaiting for them that evening. The then General Michael O’Dwyer posted in Punjab ordered troops of the British Indian Army to fire their rifles into a crowd of unarmed Indian civilians, killing many with bullets and many choose to jump into the well in the garden to save being shot who eventually lost lives, women and kids were also not spared. He kept the Sikh regiment outside and went in with other rifle regiment to ensure all orders were fully followed and there were no scope of compassion or sympathy. This news spread like a fire all over the world and Mahatma Gandhi also condemned it at that point. In someway such ruthless incidents strengthen the mission of independence more and many leaders used it as an example in their speeches.
However General Dwyer’s cruelty, in-human behaviour and atrocity towards the state of Punjab and its people did not stop there, he imposed harsh marshal laws which till today is not known to a lot of our younger generation as its not carried in our history books. The Marshal law was at a particular place where people were made to crawl in order to leave their houses, the youth were brutally whipped and pigeons were barbecued in front of the houses, garbage and filth was laid on the streets.
While awaiting his trial, Singh went on a 42-day hunger strike and was force fed. On 4 June 1940, his trial commenced at the Central Criminal Court, Old Bailey, before Justice Atkinson, with V.K. Krishna Menon and St John Hutchinson representing him. G. B. McClure was the prosecuting barrister. When asked about his motivation, Singh explained: “I did it because I had a grudge against him. He deserved it. He was the real culprit. He wanted to crush the spirit of my people, so I have crushed him. For full 21 years, I have been trying to seek vengeance. I am happy that I have done the job. I am not scared of death. I am dying for my country. I have seen my people starving in India under the British rule. I have protested against this, it was my duty. What greater honour could be bestowed on me than death for the sake of my motherland? “As quoted in Wikipedia.
There after he is addressed as Shaheed-i-Azam Sardar Udham Singh (the expression “Shaheed-i-Azam”, means “the great martyr”)
Bollywood will soon release a biopic on Udham Singh staring Vicky Kaushal in near times to come.
Today 2020 as we mark 100 years of Jallianwala Bagh Massacre, we have also come a long way. With world today fighting the Coved -19 crises we see all countries of the world united to fight this together.
I wanted to bring to you this small piece of Indian history on this significant day.
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