This book records the gruesome massacre of Amritsar of 13th April 1919 and other blood curdling stories of mostheinous crimes and brutal atrocities committed on innocent people of then Punjab for three months of martial law promulgated by its British Lt. Governor Sir Michael O’ Dyer and General Dyer who was given the sole authority to rule for the duration of martial law. From all accounts it is the darkest chapter in the history of British rule in India. Baisakhi Day is Punjabi’s most famous religious festival. People from Amritsar and the neighbouring countryside assembled in their thousands in Amritsar on 13th April 1919, to celebrate this festival. As usual, they started pouring from early morning. Three days earlier, their favourite leaders Dr. Satyapal and Dr. Kitchlew-intensely loved by the people had been arrested. Earlier, Mahatma Gandhi on his way to Amritsar had been arrested and sent back to Bombay. There was wildest excitement all over India. These were the days when the country was electrified by the waves of freedom struggle. A peaceful crowd of demonstrators on hearing the arrest of their favourite leaders. Proceeded to the bungalow of the Dy. Commissioner of Amritsar to plead for their release. They were stopped at a place known as the Hall Gate Bridge. They were stopped by mounted troops who were called out to fire Several people were killed and wounded. Thereafter followed a series of brutal acts of violence on the part of the coarser elements in the mob. General Dyer, the Officer commanding troops was given carte-blanche to take whatever steps he deemed necessary to re-establish civil rule. People who poured into Amritsar in their thousands since morning asembled in Jallewalian Bagh and then followed, without previous warning, general giring resulting into wholesale massacre of thousands of innocent men, women and children under the order of General Dyer. In author’s own words: “The Jallewalian Bagh massacre is an achievement which has earned for him a special niche of his own in the gallery of frightfulness, and will go down in history as indelibl blot on British rule in India…..”. Not only that, the General declared curfew asking people to be indoors after 8 P.M. at the same time cutting off the water supply and the electricity adding to the bitterest ordeals of the helpless people. The rest is for the readers themselves to read the sensational story from the book. The author, a noted journalist and honest English man, has given an imparative appraisal of the fateful events as a sort of rejoinder to Hunter Committee’s Report which sought to justify the misdeeds of Sir Michael O’Dyer and General Dyer and also of the entire British administration right up to the viceroy and the secretary of State. A book of the genre, given a breath taking account of the fateful events of those times in India’s history should be the proud possession not only of public and private libraries but also of every reader of contemporary history in India and also abroad.
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