|Location||Amritsar, Punjab, India|
|Area||7-acre (28,000 m2)|
|Governing body||Jallianwala Bagh National Memorial Trust|
|Owner||Jallianwala Bagh National Memorial Trust|
Jallianwala Bagh is a historic garden and ‘memorial of national importance’ close to the Golden Temple complex in Amritsar, Punjab, India, preserved in the memory of those wounded and killed in the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre that occurred on the site on the festival of Baisakhi, 13 April 1919. The 7-acre (28,000 m2) site houses a museum, gallery and several memorial structures. It is managed by the Jallianwala Bagh National Memorial Trust. It was renovated between 2019 and 2021.
Jallianwala Bagh or the garden of the Jallah-man, with its well, implies that it was once green and flowering. Over the years it had become popular as a recreation ground and an area of rest for those visiting the nearby Golden temple. In 1919, it was a dried out plot and was surrounded by tightly packed multi-occupancy buildings dividend with some narrow streets and holding only one entrance and exit route. It was unoccupied and surrounded by a wall. The place derives its name from that of the owner of this piece of land during the rule of the Sikh Empire. It was then the property of the family of Himmat Singh Bains, who originally came from the village of Jalla district of the Punjab in India. The family were collectively known as Jallewalle.
In 1919, in response to excluding Mahatma Gandhi from visiting Punjab, the secret deportation of Saifuddin Kitchlew and Satyapal on 10 April and the reactions to the Rowlatt Act, Punjab had witnessed attempts of Indians to gather and protest. On the morning of Baisakhi, 13 April 1919, to the sound of military drums by the cities town criers, 19 locations around the city were read out Brigadier General R.E.H. Dyer's new rules. He had placed restrictions on leaving the city without a permit, banned all "processions of any kind" and any congregation of more than four people, and announced that "any person found in the streets after 8 pm will be shot". The announcements came on a background of noise and unusual heat, missing key locations around the city, meaning that the notice was not widely disseminated. Dyer was subsequently informed at 12.40 pm that day, that a political gathering was to be held at Jallianwala Bagh. By the time Dyer arrived with 90 Sikh, Gurkha, Baloch, Rajput troops from 2-9th Gurkhas, the 54th Sikhs and the 59th Sind Rifles, there was a crowd of 20,000; a mix of speakers, listeners, picnic makers, men, women and children of all ages, including Sikhs, Hindus, Muslims and Christians. Dyer then ordered his troops to fire at the crowds. 1,650 rounds were fired and the number killed and injured have since been disputed.
In 1920, as a result of the massacre, a Trust was formed with the aim of creating a memorial at the massacre site. During the troubles of 1947 several surrounding buildings were destroyed. In 1951, the government of India established the site as a ‘memorial of national importance’.
The site was renovated between 2019 and 2021. The central government had earmarked ₹20 crore (US$2.6 million) in 2019 for the commemoration of the centenary of the massacre. The memorial was closed to the public in February 2019 for the work and reopened in August 2021. The renovation was criticized by various historians, political leaders and some of the kin of the martyrs. Many claimed that the renovations were improper and had erased the tragedy of the massacre.
The entrance to Jallianwala Bagh is via a narrow passage, the same passage that was the only entry and exit point at the time of the massacre and the same route that General Dyer and his troops took to reach the grounds. At the entrance is a statue of Udham Singh. Once entered, some old trees can be seen in the garden with some buildings at the back. With the words 'Vande Mataram', a flame titled Amar Jyoti (Eternal Flame) is seen burning to the right under a domed meditation area.
The portico pillars, just inside the garden, represent Dyer's soldiers.
The 'Martyrs Well' is surrounded by the Martyr's memorial, a large structure with a sign giving a figure of "120" as the number of bodies that were recovered from the well. It was designed by American architect Benjamin Polk and inaugurated in 1961.
The wall has its own historic significance as it has thirty-six bullet marks which can be easily seen at present and these were fired into the crowd by the order of General Dyer. Moreover, no warning was given to disperse before Dyer opened fire which was gathered here against the Rowlatt Act. One Thousand Six Hundred and Fifty Rounds were fired
Other plaques are seen inside the garden, one of which reads:
This site is saturated with the blood of thousands of Indian patriots who were martyred in a nonviolent struggle to free India from British domination. General Dyer of the British army opened fire here on unarmed people. Jallianwala Bagh is thus an everlasting symbol of non-violent & peaceful struggle for the freedom of India
The Martyr's gallery and museum
The Martyr's gallery contains a number of paintings including some of political leaders and a painting of the inside of Jallianwala Bagh, showing a number of people dead on the ground. The addition to the painting of the Gurkha's was painted in at a later date. The names of those killed are not included. A portrait of Udham Singh is on display in the gallery. One of the seven urns containing his ashes are kept in the museum.
The site is managed by the Jallianwala Bagh National Memorial Trust formed under the Jallianwala Bagh National Memorial Act, 1951 passed by the Parliament of India. The initial trustees of the Trust were named as Jawaharlal Nehru, Saifuddin Kitchlew, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, the President of the Indian National Congress, the Governor of Punjab, the Chief Minister of Punjab and three people nominated by the Central Government.
In November 2019, the act was amended thus removing the President of the Indian National Congress as a trustee and replacing that position with the Leader of Opposition in Loksabha (lower house of Parliament) or in absence of Leader of Opposition, the leader of the single largest opposition party in the Loksabha. It also amended that a nominated trustee may be removed by the Central Government before the end of five years term.
Since the massacre, Jallianwala Bagh has been the site of a number of official and publicized visits. One of the earliest was during the public enquiry by the Indian Congress, when Jawaharlal Nehru visited the site in the immediate aftermath of the massacre. His investigation revealed 64 bullets in one part of the wall.
The site was visited by the Queen Elizabeth II in 1961, 1983 and 1997, and British Prime Minister David Cameron visited in 2013. During Prince William and Kate's official visit to India, Jallianwala Bagh was not on their itinerary. Others from Britain include Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London in 2017, and Dominic Asquith and the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby in 2019.
India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited the grounds in 2015 and politician Kiren Rijiju visited in 2016 as part of an India-Pakistan border visit. Proposed renovations to Jallianwala Bagh were presented to India’s vice president Venkaiah Naidu, the governor of Punjab V.P. Singh Badnore and other officials when they visited the site in April 2019 to attend a commemoration ceremony organised by the Ministry of Culture. Other visitors in 2019 included Rahul Gandhi.
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