It was a bright and clear day. The people gathered to participate in the annual Baisakhi celebration. Many people had come from outside the city to witness the shower of celebrations in Amritsar. I felt lucky to be the home ground of celebration. My whole ground was full of thousands of people to welcome their new year with new hopes and vibrant wishes.
The mood was lit with carefree smiles and excitement. I was dancing with a group of children when I saw people running stamping over each other, jumping into the wells or trying to hide behind my walls.After a few minutes of the dust clearing I saw General Dyer, the then acting Brigadier with his armed troops firing bullets into the chests of the Indians.
All the exit points were guarded and it was impossible for anyone to leave. I tried to guard the small child with my raw brick hands but his innocence didn’t spare him and he was shot right on his head. I was numb.The troops did leave the piles of people wounded and dead lying there and the only color showered was red. Such a brutal response?
Bloodbath on Baisakhi.
My 225 x 180 m large structure did feel like a trap for every unnamed that day. The time froze for me and on April 13 1919, my name got registered as the ‘darkest moment in the Indian history’.Though the was name given to me ‘ Jallianwala Bagh’, a garden only by its name, an irregular quadrangle waste plot of land surrounded by resident of Jalla village then became a terrifying and daunting land.After a few years in 1927, I saw the same child who was shot right in front of me. For a moment, I thought I imagined him looking at my destroyed body but this time it was not innocence, it was ‘revenge’ that sparkled in his eyes.
Sardar Udham Singh
A 20-year-old young boy, Udham Singh, who managed to flee alive from my back, promised me to kill every person responsible for it. Later that day, I heard that General Dyer died of a fatal disease or may be of the curses that drowned him into his grave. This young man was also arrested for carrying illegal weapons and was convicted for five years. Soon after he was released from the prison, he started working as a national activist.On March 13, 1940, I heard about the death of Michael O’ Dwyer, the Governor of Punjab in 1919 at Caxton Hall, London. The day many souls got relieved from the pain of separation and brutalism.
Trying to find the young lad who would be happier to hear, I heard people talking about O’ Dwyer’s murder. On the same day he participated in a discussion about Afghanistan at Caxton Hall and shot with a revolver twice at the conference by Udham Singh. However, instead of fleeing he surrendered.After hearing the same I broke into tears but this time it ended with a smile.
Bullet marks on my body can still scare you with the pain I live with everday!
He avenged single-handedly for the massacre and freed thousands of souls to ‘Rest in peace’ and then me. Seeing so many people die and not able to protect even a single person hollows your inner peace but these mortals, they haven’t given us any chance of sacrificing but protecting them from the extreme. They keep us as the remains to carry the legacy forward with pride and faith, beholding their essence within forever.After a decade my ground was converted into a ‘memorial park’.The waste land is now lush green with my raw structure paying respect to all the brave hearts that died unnamed. The more you move, the more evidences I show you of the darkest day. The well still lies wire-meshed and is called ‘the Martyr’s well.’ The flame in the center is still burning with fire that killed thousands and my triple arched wall still bears those bullet marks to intensify the volumes of terror created that day.
Still ghosted by what happened 100 years ago, this Independence Day, I would like to remember the sacrifices of the innocents who fought constantly to relieve us from those dark days. Also, Shaheed Udham Singh’s statue has been recently installed in my ground. Do visit him and salute his love for his people and country. I salute to every human who does small efforts to make their mothers proud, biological and un-biological. Do you?