In a Garden? originally posted on July 7, 2013

In a Garden?

This is one of my favorite posts.  Our north trip has now moved from Jaipur to Amritsar in the Punjab.  This story will touch your heart. . . . . .

Image

A garden is a peaceful place for relaxation, rest, and contemplation.  It can also be a meeting place.  Such it was in a garden, Jallianwala Bagh,  in Amritsar, Punjab on Sunday, April 15, 1919. The day was one of the Punjab’s largest religious festivals. During this historical period, there was unrest and protest against the British who out of fear forbade  Indian people  the  freedom  to move around the country or meet in groups.This, too, was the case of slaves in the South before the Civil War. Plantation owners feared revolt. Slaves were not taught to read or write and could only congregate on Sundays at church. And  these pronouncements in India  were published only in English, unread by the majority of non-English speaking or  reading  Indians.  That Sunday in Amritsar, the group of men, women, and children numbering thousands were meeting to plan a protest of the unjust British laws as well as celebrate their  festival.  The crowd was peacefully sitting and listening to speakers and no one in the garden was armed.

Without warning, 50 British soldiers walked in through the one and  only entrance to the garden, blocking any means of escape. The soldiers stood in execution lines. General Dyer gave the order to “Fire until all the ammunition is exhausted.” The soldiers shot over 1600 rounds of ammunition into unarmed, defenseless men, women, and children. Desperately trying to escape, people fought to climb the surrounding walls, and  open the locked gates.  Still the bullets kept coming.  There is a large well in the center and many fleeing, panicked people decided to throw themselves and their children into the well to a death by drowning rather than be shot.  I thought of the poor people on 9/11 in New York, at the World Trade Center,  who decided a quick death by jumping was preferable to waiting to be burned alive.  They faced the same death decision as these Indians so many years ago. The well is dry today, and is named the Martyr’s Well.  The following is a reenactment of the massacre on YouTube and  is a chilling picture of the event.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XE9_zB8k_lk

There is a picture of this” killing field”  in the garden and when seeing it,  I was reminded of  Picasso’s Guiernica, a painting  showing the horrors of war.  General Dyer was later relieved of his command, but until this day no British leader has apologized for this their bloodiest act in India.  Last year David Cameron, the Prime Minister voiced regret, but stopped just short of an apology.

This date in Indian history may well mark the beginning of their  long  journey for independence from Britain.  And on this  date, Jallianwala Bagh once known as a peaceful garden, became known as hallowed ground,  the place to  remember this  merciless massacre.

Guernica, 1937 by Pablo Picasso
.Guernica by Pablo Picasso    Madrid, Spain

About annetbell

I am a retired elementary teacher, well seasoned world traveler,new blogger, grandmother, and a new enthusiastic discoverer of the wonderfully complex country of India. Anne
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19 Responses to In a Garden? originally posted on July 7, 2013

  1. lauramacky says:

    Thank you again for this historical glimpse into India. Had I proceeded through the book I would’ve known this already I’m sure, lol. But we are in the process of moving. It’s been a long process finding a house (prices are nuts here) and then trying to consolidate two houses. I hope to get back to the book soon because I really adore this history!! Something about the Indian culture fascinates me, and I sooo want to go there some day! Thank you again. 🙂

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    • annetbell says:

      Wow you are very busy! The book you are referring to, “AN Indian Summer?” That actually was 40 years from this story. I don’t remember it being mentioned. Est wishes. . . . . Happy weekend!

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  2. YellowCable says:

    I like the art work there.

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  3. I cannot find the right words to comment. But thank you for sharing xx

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  4. Inspiring and moving. Horrifying and sad as well knowing so many innocent died because of man’s greed for power and indifference to human freedom. Oppression and slavery, colonization and taking another country’s right and identity is unforgivable. Even more unforgivable when the oppressors don’t admit guilt and responsibility. I grew in a country oppressed by Spain hundreds of years ago and till today, the effects of that colonization can still be felt in the lives and hearts of every Filipino. Thanks for sharing this story. My this post serve to open the hearts of nations who still continue to oppressed other countries or it’s own people.

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  5. Recently I too visited this Jallianwala Bagh in Amritsar. Though I knew the history of this place but after my visit I was very much depressed actually. This place had vibes, something that made me actually feel the pain of those people who had gathered and were brutally killed.

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    • annetbell says:

      You know, I had the same experience there. I tried to convey that in the post. I have been to a few other places that affected me in a similar way….Dachau, concentration camp near Munich, the holocaust museum in Washington DC, The fort in Ghana in west Africa where the natives waited in bondage to be taken away on the Portuguese ships as slaves, I think very sensitive people have these connections with places of suffering.

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  6. annetbell says:

    Reblogged this on TalesAlongTheWay and commented:

    Another of my favorite places in India. . . inside a walled garden tucked way in a narrow, windy street in Amritsar, Punjab. . . . . . .

    Like

  7. Pingback: One Last Artist. . . . Pablo Picasso | TalesAlongTheWay

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