Friday, 12 April 2013

THE MASSACRE-then and now…

                                                                                                                      -Sucheth Sunil *
As was the routine, hundreds flocked to Amritsar...for the Baisakhi day. Punjab was prepping up for the new-year…The new year, for many, had to be at the holy land, the golden temple…. 
It was the April of 1919 …India was at unrest…the leader had called out to his people….Gandhiji had asked for help from all Indians  to save their mother….he’d asked India to come up ,hold hands and with the power of their sacrifice  bring down the British Raj. This Mahathma was a new leader in the national scene…but his ways were one of peace and non-violence…something which had promise and hope in the sheer fact that there was no way the oppressors could retaliate to such an uprising.   The Rowlatt Act of 1919 had been passed against the civil unrest and the Mahathma had called for an uprising against this Act.  Gandhiji’s call for an uprising was met with an unexpected response and thousands came up  in protest. Punjab especially saw a mass uprising and violent protests.

On the 13th of April nearly 15000 to 20000 people gathered at the ground of Jallianwala Bagh near Harmandir Sahib for a peaceful protest . What was another brainchild of the   great nonviolent protest was turned into a catastrophic disaster. General Dyer on the order of Lieutenant Governor Michael O' Dwyer , commanded  his regiments to open fire at the mass gathered there. Hundreds of innocent  Indians who knew nothing but that they would get their freedom by nonviolence, met with their calamitous fate on the day.

The incident  was one of the worst massacres modern India has ever seen …..but at the end of this sorrowful tale comes the question : failures teach us and this was indeed a big failure for us …we failed to avoid such a brutal killing of our own brothers …so, what DID we learn from this failure ?

Jallianwala bagh massacre today remains confined to 4 or 5 pages in our history texts …but those history texts state no substantial retaliation to this massacre…..and the few that exist are seldom given the respect…

Udham Singh …a youth from punjab , was one of the many who had a burning fire of revenge against  the oppressors…but unlike the many he let not this fire remain dormant …this brave young man ,trained himself and  felt free to breath again only after he killed Michael O’Dwyer in  Britain…

So what CAN we learn from this failure? ….of course not all of us can follow Udham singh’s path...but friends just look around…is India’s situation today any better than the day after Jallianwala Bagh massacre? The independence came in 1947 and we became a republic in 1950…but how privileged do we today feel as Indians…we are a nation with a glorious past but the last two centuries were like whips blown on our cheeks…today,though, we are at least free to think and the responsibility to restore our lost glory lies in our hands….

Clean bureaucrats, corruption free government offices, dedicated soldiers and patriotic citizens are the need of the moment. The nation wants us, this generation, to rise and with the infinite potential of our culture and the treasures of our past, to restore its lost glory….

If we decide to resurrect the glory today, as individuals and as a nation …I’m sure we’ll be able to stop this metaphorical massacres we are now facing….let’s learn a lesson from the past...let’s make this sacrifice for the martyrs of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre !


*S2 ECE, ASE, Amritapuri

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