Amongst the many things that you may be interested in is the history of Jallianwala Bagh, which is a place in Delhi that is known for a large number of reasons. The site is home to the Flame of Liberty memorial which was inaugurated by the first President of India. The site was also visited by Queen Elizabeth II.
Queen Elizabeth II visits the site
During Queen Elizabeth II’s last visit to India, she paid a visit to Jallianwala Bagh. This is the site where hundreds of unarmed Indian protesters were killed by British troops in 1919. It is one of the bloodiest episodes of British colonial rule over India.
The trip was not without controversy. The trip sparked a debate on whether the British government should have apologised for the massacre.
The event was hosted by the Jallianwala Bagh National Memorial Trust. During the trip, Queen Elizabeth visited the memorial and laid a wreath. She also made a brief tour of the area. In doing so, she was dressed in a fur coat and supported white-coloured gloves.
The visit was accompanied by Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. He made a number of controversial statements during the visit. One of the more notable claims he made was that the Jallianwala Bagh massacre was vastly overstated.
Some of his comments were highly offensive to Indian dignitaries and officials. He also questioned the number of deaths in the massacre.
Dyer was assassinated
During the British Raj, Colonel Reginald Edward Harry Dyer, also known as General Dyer, was a brigadier-general in the Punjab. In 1919, he ordered his troops to open fire on a crowd in Jallianwala Bagh, in Amritsar. He defended his actions and was endorsed by Michael O’Dwyer, the Lieutenant Governor of Punjab.
Dyer ordered his soldiers to open fire at the crowd without warning. They fired 1,650 rounds over ten minutes. The bullets killed 379 unarmed Indians and injured over 1000. Some estimates put the number of people killed at around 2,000.
Dyer had been given a commission in the army without patronage. He entered Jallianwala Bagh with about 40 Gorkha soldiers, armed with Khukris. He had also requisitioned fans and bicycles from civilians. He also banned peaceful protestors.
Dyer and his soldiers were unable to find enough ammunition. They began firing at the thickest crowd. The crowd panicked and resorted to jumping into deep wells to escape the gunfire.
Tagore renounces knighthood as “symbolic act of protest”
During the British regime, Rabindranath Tagore had a mixed relationship with the country. The great man was awarded the knighthood, but refused to accept it. In 1919, he renounced the title. He was the first Asian to be awarded the Nobel Prize.
Tagore’s renunciation was a symbolic act of protest against the British government. He did not want to be associated with the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre, which he was aware of by the time he received news of the atrocity on 22 May 1919.
The Jallianwala Bagh Massacre was an event that changed the course of history. It paved the way for Indian independence from Britain. It also permanently damaged Indo-British ties. It also prompted a spirited response from Indians.
During the Jallianwala Bagh incident, 50 British soldiers fired on unarmed Indians. This killed at least 1,200 people and left hundreds more injured. In addition to the hundreds of Indians who were killed, British soldiers also fired on local Indians who tried to rescue an English missionary named Marcella Sherwood.
Flame of Liberty memorial inaugurated by first President of India
Dedicated to the memory of martyrs of the Amritsar massacre, the Flame of Liberty memorial at Jallianwala Bagh was formally inaugurated by first President of Independent India, Dr. Rajendra Prasad, on April 13, 1961.
A large 30-foot pylon stands at the center of the memorial. Each of the four sides of the pylon is surrounded by four stone lanterns. They are carved with the Ashoka Chakra, a symbol of India’s freedom struggle. The central monument is made of red sandstone from Dholpur (Rajasthan) and Mysore.
The Flame of Liberty memorial was commissioned by American sculptor Benjamin Polk. It features 300 slabs, each with the Ashoka Chakra carved on them. The pylon has an inscription in Hindi.
In addition to the Flame of Liberty memorial, Jallianwala Bagh also has a small museum, a gallery of freedom fighters, and a well. These are all run by the Jallianwala Bagh National Memorial Trust. The trust is chaired by the Prime Minister and comprises the Punjab Chief Minister as a permanent member.