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'Dwyer, not Dyer, was the villain of Jallianwalla Bagh'

The Jallianwalla Bagh massacre, which took place on April 13, 78 years ago, was the brainchild of the then Punjab lieutenant governor Sir Micheal O' Dwyer and not of the actual perpetuator General Dyer, noted historian K K Khullar, citing latest research, claims.

In a paper, 'New light on Jallianwalla Bagh', Khullar says the massacre was not an isolated event but an important link in the chain of incidents before and after with the intention of ''unleashing a reign of terror in Punjab."

He points out that when General Dyer opened fire on 20,000 unarmed people who had congregated at the Bagh in Amritsar to protest against the detention of Gandhi, Dr Saifuddin Kitchlew and Dr Satyapal, he was following orders of Sir Michael O' Dwyer, ''with whom he had established a direct line of communication'' bypassing the deputy commissioner of Amritsar.

Further, ''General Dyer gave no warning for the crowd to disperse, he took no permission in writing or otherwise to fire from the district magistrate, Amritsar. In fact, the DM was not even present in the city that day. Also, while martial law was officially proclaimed on April 15, 1919, General Dyer imposed it from April 12 and made no effort to inform the people about it. Moreover, General Dyer sent his report directly to the lieutenant governor in Lahore through a special messenger.''

Sir Michael O' Dwyer lost no time in approving the step taken by General Dyer, stating ''Your action is correct. The lieutenant governor approves.''

The governor said the firing was done to create ''a moral effect... From a military point of view''.

Khullar said all this points to a ''nexus between Sir Michael and General Dyer.''

Khullar said the news about the massacre was not allowed to spread to other parts of the country for several months.

Revolutionary leader Lala Lajpat Rai, who was then in the United States, came to India in February, 1920 and immediately began to probe into the whole affair.

The Sher-e-Punjab, as Lala Lajpat Rai was popularly known as, issued a 12-point chargesheet against Sir Michael O' Dwyer on September 4, 1920, stating that he was the real villain of the piece.

He charged him specifically ''with being an accessory after the event of Jallianwalla Bagh''.

Lajpat Rai said that by Sir Michael O' Dwyer's unqualified approval of the massacre, he made himself responsible for all the outrages committed by the martial law administration in pursuance of his policy.

To prove that the massacre was one event in the chain of events, Khullar said Sir Michael O' Dwyer masterminded ''the entire blood-bath in Punjab, not only in Amritsar but also in Lahore, Gujranwalla, Kasur and Shaikupura''.

Khullar said days before the incident Sir Michael O' Dwyer had reduced Punjab ''into an enemy territory... Inflicting untold tortures and humiliations on the people.''

It was under his orders that Gandhi was arrested at Palwal near Delhi and prevented from entering Punjab. He also directed that Amritsar's popular leaders Satyapal and Saifuddin Kitchlew be deported to some ''unknown place''. It was also his macabre idea of ''bombing the cities of Punjab by aeroplanes''.

Lajpat Rai charged Sir Michael O' Dwyer with having deliberately intensified the policy of divide and rule by keeping apart the Mohammedans from the Hindus and both from the Sikhs.

He said the lieutenant governor created mischievous distinctions between the so-called martial and educated classes and between the rural and urban people. He also alleged that he ''deceived the government of India as to the necessity of martial law in Punjab''.

Sir Michael O' Dwyer was also charged with culpable neglect of duty in not going to Amritsar, first on April 11, 1919 after the ''deplorable events of April 10 and then on April 14 after the massacre at Jallianwala Bagh.

Lajpat Rai thundered ''Indeed I may venture to assert that no man in India has done such a great disservice to the British empire and brought such a disgrace on the good name of the British nation as Sir Michael O' Dwyer.''

Khullar said ''But the after-effect of the tragedy was that it advanced the political consciousness of the people of India by at least ten years. It changed the course of the freedom struggle.''

''Plassey laid the foundation of the British Empire, Amritsar had shaken it,'' Khullar observed.


Related Story:
Rs 20m plan for Jallianwala Bagh memorial still on paper

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