With the opening of the historic case of death sentences to Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev at Lahore recently, the horrendous Jallianwala Bagh massacre comes alive in the memory again as if it happened only yesterday. Thousands of pilgrims who flock to see the Golden Temple in the holy city of Amritsar also make it a point to visit this site that tells you the unbelievable tale of British atrocities on innocent men, women and children on April 19, 1919.
As I walked across the crowded streets in Katara and made my way across a very narrow road that leads to Jallianwala Bagh, the serene entrance hardly demonstrated or portrayed the untold violence of British imperialism. But the sprawling, well maintained gardens, the various exhibits including the bullet riddled walls and the bloodied well bring out the confusion and wails of those who tried to escape the marauding British troops in vain and were butchered mercilessly without a second thought.
On Baisakhi day, nearly a thousand people were massacred at the order of General Dyer in these gardens, and this whole bloodbath was planned to corner people in an area where there were no gates. The main gate was blocked and many terrified people were forced to jump in the solitary well here, leading to death.
Even today, the Martyr’s Well echoes with the memory of the dead and the injured people who were left to die here as a curfew had been imposed on the city.
After independence, this park was turned into a memorial for the victims. This memorial designed by American architect Benjamin Polk now pays tribute to the departed. At the Martyr’s Gallery, one gets to know the full details of the appalling massacre. A section of the wall with many a bullet mark has been preserved. Even some adjoining buildings till this day have these marks.
The well into which many people jumped and drowned attempting to save themselves from the bullets is also a protected monument inside the park.
It is said that Shaheed Bhagat Singh was inspired by this massacre to become a revolutionary in the Indian independence movement. Jallianwala Bagh is open to public on all days. But the memorial is open between 6 am and 9 pm in summers and 7 am and 8 pm in winters.