“For the first time in my life I began to realize

that it is not evil and brutality, but nearly always weakness, that is to blame for the worst things

that happen in this world.”

–Stefan Zweig

 

In 1919, the British Indian Army in Jallianwala Bagh, Amritsar, massacred non-violent protesters and pilgrims for Baishakhi. A majority of the victims were Sikhs participating in the Baishakhi festival celebrations and also condemning the arrests of two national leaders. Since most of the people were from outside the city, they were unaware of the imposition of martial law in Amritsar.

The British Indian Army troops entered the vicinity, concealed all its exits and started firing at the crowd. It went on for a continuous ten minutes.

In its aftermath, the British government released its report claiming 379 dead and over a 1000 injured whereas independent sources quoted over a 1000 deaths. This event along with anger about the British government not admitting its mistake, led to the Non-Cooperation Movement of 1920-1922.

The Jalianwala massacre, to this day, remains one of the most brutal displays of colonialism in the minds of the sub-continental intellectuals. This year, to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the event, many conferences were organized in Pakistan and India to assess the impact of the event on the national liberation movements that drove British out of the Sub-continent.