UK Prime Minister David Cameron was praised today by Bharpur Singh, a 98-year-old survivor of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre, for describing the incident as a ‘deeply shameful’ event in British history.
Now living in Melbourne, Australia, Bharpur Singh recounted the tragic day: ‘I was four year old and had gone with my Grandfather and an Uncle to attend this peaceful rally’.
‘When we heard gunshots, we ran to save our lives and jumped over mud huts that were on the southern side of the Bagh. In the incident my uncle broke his arm and we could not take him to hospital as there were fears of being arrested,’ he said.
‘I still feel trauma… but such a gesture from the British dignitary is to be appreciated,’ Singh said.
Another person who felt the pain of the survivors first-hand was American, G. M. Williams. Unusually for a western woman in the 1920s, she travelled alone across India for five months. This is what she wrote of her visit to Jallianwala Bagh:
‘We walked round the Garden in silence. It was a grim sight, an ordinary Indian garden, not very well kept up, with graveled walks and flower-beds and, at one side, a well and one or two small trees. The Garden is completely enclosed by high walls and the sheer sides of tall buildings. In addition to the main entrance there were two narrow gateways in the far corners. Except for the well, there was no shelter of any sort….
‘The Sikh showed me many bullet holes in the walls across the far end of the Garden, indicating them with a quiet gesture, but making no comment. After we had left the Garden and were well away, he said: “Any one is liable to make mistakes. If the ‘raj’ had shown right away that it did not approve of what General Dyer had done, it would have made all the difference in the world to us. But, when they retired the General, after doing nothing for many months, it was too late to do much good. And when his friends in India and England gave him £30,000 and a jeweled sword in gratitude for his being a hero, as they called it, we saw pretty well how they really felt.”’
This image and quote are #363 (out of 489) from our Golden Temple book (see link below). Check it out to see other images related to the Amritsar Massacre of 1919.