13TH APRIL – THE AMRITSAR MASSACRE

13th April 1919  – General Reginald Dyer orders his troops to open fire on a peaceful rally of several thousand at Jallianwala Bagh, near Amritsar in India. He insisted they continue firing for ten minutes, focusing on the narrow exit points through which the panicked crowd were trying to flee until his men were almost out of ammunition.  The official estimate was that 329 people were killed, including 42 children, and another 1,200 injured. However, a figure based on a detailed house to house census of the missing, put the figure of fatalities at 530. General Dyer was unrepentant, declaring that if he’d had more soldiers and ammunition, he would have ensured a higher death toll and that he regretted not having a machine gun available. He told the committee investigating the crime the circumstances around the massacre that

“…. It was no longer a question of merely dispersing the crowd, but one of producing a sufficient moral effect, from the military point of view, not only on those who were present, but more specially throughout the Punjab.”

 

Text on this page copyright Alisdare Hickson 2018.