In Jalliawala Bagh incident, did General dyer obey orders of British empire or did he act based on his wisdom?

By Sunil Kumar

Colonel Reginald Edward Harry Dyer also known as the ‘Butcher of Amritsar’ was a loyal servant of the British Empire.

Although he was widely known as “General Dyer”, in reality he was not so. He was only a temporary Brigadier-General and when he lost command of the Fifth Brigade, the rank went too. He was merely a Colonel. On January 25, 1921, he wrote to the War Office asking to keep his honorary rank.

Now for the events of the Baisakhi day Jallianwala Bagh massacre. In 1919, alarmed by displays of Hindu-Muslim unity and rising protests against their rule in the Punjab and all of India, the British were panicking. Memories of the 1857 revolt remained fresh in their minds, when the Sepoys had attacked them, and in the end, the English had indulged in brutal and merciless reprisals.

The apparent trigger for this was an attack on Marcella Sherwood, an Anglican missionary. Despite the fact that a Hindu family saved her and many other Indians rushed to her aid, this was enough for the Irish governor Michael O’Dwyer to impose martial law. Crawling orders were issued where the people were ruthlessly deprived of ‘human rights’ by the inhuman Empire. The savage governor O’Dwyer was later assassinated by Sardar Udham Singh in 1940. Apart from the Jallianwala Bagh massacre, the British government had already done aerial bombardment of Gujranwala(another city in undivided Punjab).

Regarding your question, sometime after 5.00 pm, Dyer arrived with 50 Gurkha and Sikh soldiers, and two armoured vehicles which could not enter due to the narrow entrance.

Undaunted, Dyer marched his troops in, lined them up opposite the crowd and ordered them to fire. This they did, firing 1,650 rounds for ten minutes, reloading twice, killing 379 and wounding 1,500 people(official figures, the actual death toll is estimated to be more).

Dyer took a decision on his own, and he knew that some of his superiors would not approve. Ultimately for him, the Punjab governor at the time, O’Dwyer fully endorsed his action. Many British in India and some prominent people in England at the time like Rudyard Kipling also approved. A paper raised about 26,000 pounds for him(in the 1920s- so much more in current terms). Surprisingly, another India-hater Winston Churchill called his actions ‘monstrous’ and condemned him.

If you want to read more; here are a few links…

Amritsar and the Irish connections

‘Native crawling up street where Miss Sherwood was assaulted, 1919’

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