Tag Archives: sikhs

LITERARY CORNER: “Jallianwala Bagh: An Empire of Fear and the Making of the Amritsar Massacre,” by Kim A Wagner.

Copyright@shravancharitymission

Khidki (Window)

–Read India Initiative—

This is only an attempt to create interest in reading. We may not get the time to read all the books in our lifetime. But such reviews, talk and synopsis will at least convey what the book is all about.

    Time doesn’t dilute the scars of hateful crimes. I’m pointing at the “Jallianwala Bagh” massacre, a crime perpetrated by Brigadier General Reginald Dyer. People who died in that slaughter, I’m sure, must be turning in their graves on each anniversary of the crime that was unleashed on April 13, 1919 by this devil. With that logic the victims by now must have turned at least a hundred times in their proverbial grave. But the apology from the British is yet to come. This monster, Brigadier Dyer later died on 23 July 1927. Winston Churchill called him a rotten apple simply to disavow his own responsibility.

    But then the rotten apple grew in his own backyard colony called India. General Dyer is also called, “the Butcher of Amritsar,” because of his order to fire repeatedly on a crowd of peaceful protesters. This resulted in the murder of at least 500-600 people and injuries to over a thousand more. Subsequently, Dyer was removed from duty and widely condemned both in Britain and in India. But he became a celebrated hero among some with connections to the British Raj. Some historians argue the episode was a decisive event towards the end of the British rule in India.

    Many books have been written on this particular massacre. Latest being “Jallianwala Bagh: An Empire of Fear and the Making of the Amritsar Massacre,” by historian Kim A Wagner. Wagner teaches, the history of colonial India and the British Empire at Queen Mary, University of London. He has written extensively on the subject of ‘Thuggee,’ the Indian Uprising of 1857, and resistance and colonial violence more generally in 19th and 20th century global history. The book has been published by Penguin, and the price is below Rs 500 in Amazon. Even though it has been a century since Brigadier General Reginald Dyer ordered Indian Army troops to open fire upon an unarmed crowd at Jallianwala Bagh on April 13, 1919, the memory of it is still painful for Indians. British historian Kim Wagner has taken a fresh look at the incident in this book. There are some advance praises about the book, a couple of them are as follows:

  1. “In the cautionary tale provided in Jallianwala Bagh, it is enduring racist fear that lies at the heart of precipitate violence. Analytically sharp but gripping to read, the book is a page turner.”—says Barbara D. Metcalf, Co-Author of “A Concise History of India.”
  1. In the compelling yet exacting study Kim Wagner combines the intimacy of the storyteller and the distance of the historian to evoke the “micro story” of the massacre while understanding it as the “final stage of the much longer process”, stretching back to Sepoy Uprising. Mining a variety of sources—diaries, memoirs and court testimonies—he uncovers fresh perspectives and examines the relation between colonial panic and state brutality with sophistication, sincerity and style rare in published accounts of this much-trodden ground.”–says Santanu Das, Author of, “India, Empire and First War Culture.”

    The book gives a good overview of the massacre from all corners and all stakeholders. Was Jallianwala Bagh massacre a one-off incident, as portrayed back then and even today by many? The book tries to answer that. The author feels rather than being an unprecedented event, the Amritsar massacre revealed the racialized logic of a colonial violence, and we find the exact sentiments expressed by British officers involved in the suppression of the Indian Uprising of 1857, for instance.

    An apology that describes General Dyer as a rotten apple, which is, essentially what Winston Churchill said in 1920, is not an apology at all but rather an attempt to disavow any form of responsibility in terms of the Raj and the British Empire in general.

    There is often a debate about the troops who open fired. Some say they were Gorkhas and Pathan troops. The author with his research tries to clear the air when he says. There probably were a few Sikh troops also present but we have to remember that the British at the same time did not think of the local population in communal terms. Dyer refers to the protesters simply as ‘rebels.’ The composition of the force he took with him to ‘Jallianwala Bagh’ was largely accidental.

    To a question about Indian Army veterans who had served in World War-I, being among the unfortunate crowd that got killed and injured the eyewitnesses describe how veterans called out for people to lie down to avoid being shot, so there were clearly demobilised soldiers in the crowd.

    British Empire apologists often dismiss the Indian National Congress’s findings about the tragedy and settle for government estimates to save their skin. The Indian National Congress actually estimated that 500 had been killed but that 1,000 might not be an exaggerated estimate—based on the door-to-door inquiry made by local agencies, some 540 names were found, and the author feels that somewhere between 500 to 600 were killed and, perhaps, three times that many wounded.

    As per the book it was not a pre-meditated plan. Dyer believed he was entering a war zone and was fully prepared to shoot at anyone who defied his ban on public meetings. He did not know what the layout of the city or Jallianwala Bagh was. Once he arrived at the Bagh, he did not care much about who was actually present but simply open fired without using his brains.

   There is no evidence about the 120 bodies that were recovered from the well. Eye-witnesses describe one or two people falling in it, and Motilal Nehru and Madan Mohan Malviya thought they saw one or two bodies floating in the well, later that summer—which was nothing more than a clay-pot and some old clothes floating in the well. There was a merging of the canal feeding with the holy tank, which runs under Jallianwala Bagh, since we know that some people climbed into that to flee the bullets and that several bodies were later recovered.

    Lastly, Churchill denounced Dyer in 1920 but it was not because he found indiscriminate violence in the Empire unacceptable, but rather because Dyer’s actions made it so difficult to defend British rule in India. That is also why he was eager to depict Dyer and the massacre as ‘un-British.’

    The massacre has been portrayed in several movies, starting with Attenborough’s Gandhi. But author Kim Wagner thinks none of them make more impact than re-enact the set of visual tropes first deployed by Attenborough. There is almost a checklist of recurrent motifs, including Dyer ordering his troops to fire, and people throwing themselves into the well or getting crushed against a locked gate, crying kids sitting next to their dead parents. To break new ground in this respect would require a break from these filmic conventions.

    Jallianwalla Bagh is often the least talked about episode in the British circles but yes to an extent or rather to quite an extent during the trial it helped in understanding the British colonial policy. The Hunter Commission was set up partly to assuage moderate Indian nationalists and Montagu, the Secretary of State for India, never expected it to reveal the things it did. The fact that this was such a large inquiry, which elicited so much evidence, not least Dyer’s own testimony, means that this was probably the best-recorded colonial atrocity within the British Empire up till that point.

    Well if you’re interested in history and the sad chapters of Indian history this book is for you. Well written and great in detailing and largely unbiased barring certain chapters where you get some eerie feeling it sails through in the Indian Ocean without turbulence. A historians prime job is to lay down history in proper perspective where the author I think has not failed. I would give the book seven out of ten.

Posted by Kamlesh Tripathi

*

https://kamleshsujata.wordpress.com

*

Share it if you like it

*

Shravan Charity Mission is an NGO that works for poor children suffering from life threatening diseases especially cancer. Our posts are meant for our readers that includes both children and adults and it has a huge variety in terms of content. We also accept donations for our mission. Should you wish to donate for the cause. The bank details are given below:

NAME OF ACCOUNT: SHRAVAN CHARITY MISSION

Account no: 680510110004635 (BANK OF INDIA)

IFSC code: BKID0006805

*

Our publications

GLOOM BEHIND THE SMILE

(The book is about a young cancer patient. Now archived in 7 prestigious libraries of the US, including, Harvard University and Library of Congress. It can also be accessed in MIT through Worldcat.org. Besides, it is also available for reading in Libraries and archives of Canada and Cancer Aid and Research Foundation Mumbai)  

ONE TO TANGO … RIA’S ODYSSEY

(Is a book on ‘singlehood’ about a Delhi girl now archived in Connemara Library, Chennai and Delhi Public Library, GOI, Ministry of Culture, Delhi)

AADAB LUCKNOW … FOND MEMORIES

(Is a fiction written around the great city of Nawabs—Lucknow. It describes Lucknow in great detail and also talks about its Hindu-Muslim amity. That happens to be its undying characteristic. The book was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival of 2014)

REFRACTIONS … FROM THE PRISM OF GOD

(Co-published by Cankids–Kidscan, a pan India NGO and Shravan Charity Mission, that works for Child cancer in India. The book is endorsed by Ms Preetha Reddy, MD Apollo Hospitals Group. It was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival 2016)

TYPICAL TALE OF AN INDIAN SALESMAN

(Is a story of an Indian salesman who is, humbly qualified. Yet he fights his ways through unceasing uncertainties to reach the top. A good read not only for salesmen. The book was launched on 10th February, 2018 in Gorakhpur Lit-Fest. Now available in Amazon, Flipkart and Onlinegatha)

RHYTHM … in poems

(Published in January 2019. The book contains 50 poems. The poems describe our day to day life. The book is available in Amazon, Flipkart and Onlinegatha)

(ALL THE ABOVE TITLES ARE AVAILABLE FOR SALE IN AMAZON, FLIPKART AND OTHER ONLINE STORES OR YOU COULD EVEN WRITE TO US FOR A COPY)

*****

 

 

 

Satire: JagdishTytler’s divorced conscience in conversation with Jagdish Tytler

Copyright@shravancharitymission

 

00000conscience

    One day while Jagdish Tytler was taking a morning walk. He met his divorced conscience after many years, in the colony park behind his house. His conscience asked.

    ‘Hi Jagdish! How are you? And how is your legal battle of 1984—Sikh riot coming along? Have you been acquitted?’

    ‘Yes-yes, more or less.’ He replied in a cheerful tone.

    ‘More or less, what do you mean by more or less?’ 

    ‘Dear Conscience. I visited Dr Manmohan Singh some time ago when he was the Prime Minister and requested for a clean chit. He in turn instructed CBI to give me one. So I guess I am out of the rut. But by the way do you know who Dr Manmohan Singh is, as I’m meeting you after a long time?’

    ‘Arrey, Jagdish, so what if I left you in 1984, but who doesn’t know Dr Manmohan Singh. Isn’t he the same CEO of India, under whose nose all UPA scams were committed? And, I understand through reliable sources he is again getting a plum posting, as he is now being offered the hot chair of ‘CEO-Hell.’

    ‘CEO-Hell—what is that- Conscience?’

    ‘Arrey, the way he was ‘CEO-India’ he will now be ‘CEO-Hell,’ where you don’t even require a nomination through Rajya-Sabha as he will be a direct appointee of the President.’

    ‘But Conscience, he is a noble soul. So, do you think he will be able to handle the affairs of hell which are rather slimy and tricky, as a CEO?’

    ‘Let me tell you Jagdish. You can’t get a better candidate them him. Didn’t you notice how he turned India, which was heaven, into a ‘corrupt-hell-station’ in just about a decade. That to in connivance with the Congress High Command.  Boss you need to understand that appearances can be deceptive like Manmohan Singh. Who, otherwise appears as a meek and honest looking person, but he successfully masterminded, to make India one of the most ‘corrupt-hell station’ of the world. And don’t you worry about him as he is a smart operator, but yes, your case is indeed sad.’

    ‘But … how, Conscience?’

    ‘Just to please Gandhi parivar and show your allegiance to Congress Party you instigated a slaughter of 3000 Sikhs, in Delhi in 1984. Which was really stupid of you. What did you think you’ll go scot free after this ghastly crime? Kanoon ke haath bahut lambe hain Jagdish ji, perhaps you didn’t know that.’

    ‘But …. Conscience. If you will recall, it all started as a mob reaction and at the spur of the moment, when Mrs Indira Gandhi was shot dead by her own Sikh guards.’

    ‘I know everything as I lived in you then, and haven’t forgotten any bit. You may use all the legal tricks now to defend yourself in the court of law. But in my court you will always remain guilty of this heinous crime.’

    ‘But, Conscience, why are you holding me, solely responsible for it, as there were others too, involved in this.’

    ‘Because you were one of the main accomplice’s in getting the Sikhs massacred in the streets of Delhi. And, you made no efforts to stop the riots, even with all the power at your command. I left you soon, after this crime was committed. But did you ever introspect, as to why you did this and what you got out of it?’

    ‘I don’t deny I was a great friend of the Gandhis and maybe I too got emotional when Mrs Indira Gandhi was shot dead.’

    ‘Or was it your insecurity, that if you don’t react sternly you won’t remain the blue eyed guy of Gandhis? You see Jagdish we often commit the mistake of internalizing a feeling in ourselves, that we are permanently going to be part of this world. That makes us amass vulgar wealth, perpetrate heinous crimes such as this, and stoop to unethical levels and also various sorts of Chamchagiri, trying to be more loyal than the king.

    Analyse the difference between yourself and ManMohan. Who, after converting India into a ‘corrupt-hell-station’ is still roaming free. Whereas, you lost your complete political career. In 1984 when you committed the crime you were 40 and now past 70 and since then you have just been cooling your heels at home. You converted to Christianity under the influence of James Douglas Tytler a renowned educationist, who impressed you, but still went for this kind of a massacre. Oh what a bright future you had. But all down the drain.’

    ‘Oh Conscience what do I do now? Show me the way out.’

    ‘Well for such a genocide. One only needs to visit hell for penance. Where, you’ll probably meet your old friend Dr Manmohan Singh as—CEO-Hell who might suggest a way out. Anyways, take care, and be cautious. For God alone knows what  in you’ll become in your next birth.’

*

By Kamlesh Tripathi

*

https://kamleshsujata.wordpress.com

*

Share if you like it

*

Shravan Charity Mission is an NGO that works for poor children suffering from life threatening diseases. Should you wish to donate for the cause the bank details are given below:

NAME OF ACCOUNT: SHRAVAN CHARITY MISSION

Account no: 680510110004635 (BANK OF INDIA)

IFSC code: BKID0006805

*

Our publications

GLOOM BEHIND THE SMILE

(Archived in 7 prestigious libraries of the US, including, Harvard University and Library of Congress. It can also be accessed in MIT through Worldcat.org. Besides, it is also available for reading in Libraries and archives of Canada and Cancer Aid and Research Foundation Mumbai)  

ONE TO TANGO … RIA’S ODYSSEY

(Archived in Connemara Library, Chennai and Delhi Public Library, GOI, Ministry of Culture)

AADAB LUCKNOW … FOND MEMORIES

(Launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival 2014)

REFRACTIONS … FROM THE PRISM OF GOD

(Co-published by Cankids–Kidscan, a pan India NGO and Shravan Charity Mission, that works for Child cancer in India. The book is endorsed by Ms Preetha Reddy, MD Apollo Hospitals Group. Book was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival 2016)

(CAN BE BOUGHT FROM ON LINE BOOK STORES OR WRITE TO US FOR COPIES)

*****

 

Article: YOURS, MINE BUT NOT INDIA’S- FESTIVALS

Copyright@shravancharitymission

KAMLESH TRIPATHI

132

Yesterday, on the eve of Christmas I was told our office is not closed. As majority are non Christians who don’t celebrate Christmas. So we need to work on Christmas. A similar thing happened on Eid where again our office remained open. And, on both the days, I left in the morning only to return in the evening. Barely squeezing in time for a few text messages of ‘good wishes’ on the occasion to my Christian and Muslim friends, leave aside celebrating with them. I found this approach of certain establishment’s quite non-secular. But I was even more surprised when none of the so called secular parties of India came forward to address this non-secular issue. And, contrary to this on Holi and Diwali, the two major Hindu festivals, when our office remained closed no Christian or Muslim could come to work even if he wanted to. And with the same hypothesis this too was non-secular.

578

India should celebrate and grieve together. Unless we reach out to minorities in their thick and thin, and the minorities reach us in the breath, a sound weaving of minds will never happen, as everyone will celebrate their festivals only as a community and we won’t have too many national festivals.

After all; all our Gods reside in this very country and they all have Indian passports; and it is only for some non-secular establishments to realize this vintage fact.

*****