Home India PM Modi "celebrating" Jallianwala Bagh site with DJ lights raises criticism

PM Modi “celebrating” Jallianwala Bagh site with DJ lights raises criticism

Prime Minister Narendra Modi irks anger as he asks the nation to join him in remembering the Jallianwala Bagh martyrs.

He released a tweet saying: Join me as we inaugurate the renovated complex of Jallianwala Bagh Smarak today at 6:25 PM. I also invite you to watch the sound and light show. It would display the horrific massacre of April 1919 and instill a spirit of gratitude and reverence towards the martyrs.

 

While the PM’s tweet seemed noble enough, it irked judgment because citizens said it was inappropriate to remember the most atrocious incident in Indian history with DJ sounds and pub lights and expressed that it was an insult to the martyrs.

What was the Jallianwala Bagh massacre?

The Jallianwala Bagh massacre, also known as the Amritsar massacre, took place on 13 April 1919 where a great but peaceful crowd had gathered at the Jallianwala Bagh in Amritsar, Punjab to protest against the arrest of pro-Indian independence leaders Dr. Saifuddin Kitchlu and Dr. Satya Pal.

In response to the public gathering, the British Brigadier-General R. E. H. Dyer surrounded the Bagh with his soldiers. The Jallianwala Bagh could only be exited on one side, as its other three sides were enclosed by buildings. After blocking the exit with his troops, he ordered them to shoot at the crowd, continuing to fire even as protestors tried to flee. The troops kept on firing until their ammunition was exhausted.  Over 1000 people were killed and over 1,200 other people were injured of whom 192 were seriously injured.

This polarized both the British and Indian peoples. Eminent author Rudyard Kipling declared at the time that Dyer “did his duty as he saw it”. This incident shocked Rabindranath Tagore (the first Indian and Asian Nobel laureate) to such an extent that he renounced his knighthood and stated that “such mass murderers aren’t worthy of giving any title to anyone”.

The massacre caused a re-evaluation by the British Army of its military role against civilians to minimal force whenever possible, although later British actions during the Mau Mau insurgencies in Kenya have led historian Huw Bennett to note that the new policy was not always carried out.  The army was retrained and developed less violent tactics for crowd control.

The level of casual brutality, and lack of any accountability, stunned the entire nation, resulting in a wrenching loss of faith of the general Indian public in the intentions of the UK.

The ineffective inquiry, together with the initial accolades for Dyer, fuelled great widespread anger against the British among the Indian populace, leading to the Non-cooperation movement of 1920–22.  Some historians regard the episode as a decisive step towards the end of British rule in India.

It was unfortunate that Britain never formally apologized for the massacre but expressed “regret” in 2019.

Here are some of the indignant responses to the prime minister’s “sound and light show” on Twitter:

 

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