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Picture of the Week #84

SubscribeFiled Under: Picture of the Week,by Bhakti and Neeraj

This is not a pretty picture.  Something very terrible happened here back on April 13th, 1919.

Do you see the bullet holes on the wall?  This is Jallianwala Bagh in Amritsar, Punjab, where the British massacred a few thousand unarmed Indians.

The bagh (park) was the venue for a peaceful protest by the people of India against the British Rowalatt Act.

Unhappy with the protest, British General Dyer ordered his soldiers to open fire on a gathering of unarmed men, women and children. The soldiers had blocked all the exits. Some of the soldiers initially fired in the air, at which General Dyer shouted: “Fire low. What have you been brought here for?” Later, Dyer’s own testimony revealed that the crowd was not given any warning to disperse and he felt no remorse for having ordered his troops to fire.

The “official” British count was 379 casualties. In reality, it was around 2000 (including women and children).  There is also a well in this bagh. Many people jumped to their deaths in the well to escape from the British bullets. Around 120 bodies were plucked out of the well.

Dyer had reported to his superiors that he had been “confronted by a revolutionary army,” and had been obliged “to teach a moral lesson to the people of Punjab.”  Many Englishmen, as well as the British press, defended Dyer as the man who had “saved British pride and honour.”

Britain’s PM recently said that Britain’s legacy of its empire is responsible for many of world’s problems. So true. Many of the conflicts in Africa and South Asia have a direct link to the Britisher’s “divide-and-conquer” strategy. A historian interviewed by BBC tried to argue that the empire brought with it modern medicine, western education, rule of law, technology and also a structure of good government.  Although this is true to some degree, the more important question to ask is what did they take away and what were they doing in South Asia and Africa in the first place?  The same can be asked about French, Belgian, Spanish and Portuguese colonialists. What were they doing in Africa and South America?

Clearly, they were there to steal and enrich themselves.  They were there to steal the country’s natural resources such as gold, diamonds, silver, iron, copper, cotton, wood and other forest and animal products etc. Why do you think Western Europe is so rich today?

Everything the British did in India was to maintain control and to transfer wealth to their own country.  They built railways and sea ports in India – not out of the goodness of their heart, but to make it easier to transport goods back to England. Their “structure of good government” was to maintain control over the “natives”, as they called the locals. Read George Orwell’s Burmese Days for an account of how the British treated the “natives” in colonial Burma.

Did you know that the diamond on Queen Elizabeth’s crown was stolen from India?  It is the largest natural diamond in the world, known as “Kohinoor”.

The rest is history.


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