April 13: “A 100 years ago today, our beloved freedom fighters were martyred at Jallianwala Bagh. A horrific massacre, a stain on civilisation, that day of sacrifice can never be forgotten by India. At this solemn moment, we pay our tribute to the immortals of Jallianwala,” President Ramnath Kovind tweeted.
Hundred years on, the United Kingdom is yet to give a full apology for the gruesome attack on unarmed protesters in Amritsar in 1919. However, British Prime Minister Theresa May had recently said that the United Kingdom “deeply regrets” the 1919 massacre and called it a “shameful scar” on the British-Indian history.
A century ago, British forces led by Brigadier General Reginald Dyer opened fire on hundreds of unarmed, innocent Indians, including women and children, who were protesting peacefully against the oppressive Rowlatt Act of the British government on April 13, 1919 at Jallianwala Bagh in Amritsar. The number of casualties on April 13, 1919 is unclear, with colonial-era records showing 379 deaths while Indian figures put the number at closer to 1,000.
However, the irony of the fact is that when on one hand candle light march took place at Amritsar paying rich homage to the martyrs, on the other all political parties throughout the country were busy in their high voltage election campaign. None really seemed to be concerned about those freedom fighters who laid down their lives on this very day 100 years ago for the liberation of the country. Though the party leaders paid their homage at Jalianwala Bagh but after that, their party wings in all poll-bound states became busy in playing loud music throughout the day and seek votes. Perhaps the darkest chapter of India’s freedom struggle has lost relevance in the face of 21st century’s greatest festival of Indian democracy.