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Jallianwala anniversary: ‘British feared repeat of 1857 mutiny’

Jallianwala anniversary: ‘British feared repeat of 1857 mutiny’

A national seminar in commemoration of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre underway at GNDU in Amritsar on Tuesday. Sunil kumar

Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 16

The Jallianwala Bagh Chair of Guru Nanak Dev University organised a national seminar on ‘Situating Jallianwala Bagh Massacre in the Indian National Movement’ to commemorate 105 years of the massacre. Prof Harish K Puri, former Chairperson, Ambedkar Chair of the University, was the keynote speaker. In his address, he presented his main argument as to how the Congress Inquiry Committee leaders, especially Mahatma Gandhi, eroded the fear from their minds and came forward to give evidence against the British government in the aftermath of the incident.

During the event, two books based on studies conducted by researchers on the Jallianwala Bagh were also released. The first book, titled ‘Re-visiting Martyrs of Jallianwala Bagh Massacre’ by Prof Amandeep Bal and Dr Dilbag Singh addresses the issue of number of people killed and wounded in the incident. Addressing the issue of documenting the exact number of those killed or wounded, Dr Amandeep Bal said, “It is impossible to solve the mystery about the exact number of the people killed and the wounded after 100 years. There was martial law till June 1919 and the British government did not start collecting the information till August 1919. Much of the information was lost in its aftermath and during the cover-up by the British regime. During our two years long research, 55 more persons in the killed list and 101 wounded have been identified from the Compensation Files of 1922 and two from surveys made during the time. All the available lists have been documented in the appendices in the book, which presents an extensive account of our study. Also, 34 children who were among those killed have been identified, though there were more as the age of many has not been given,” she shared.

The other book, ‘The Jallianwala Bagh Journals’ by author Sarmistha Dutta Gupta is a response to the massacre as an experiment in public history. Dutta Gupta has attempted to create a comparison between the concept of building structural memorials and memories of a generation, drawing on family and community memories of people of Amritsar on the incident. Critically remembering Rabindranath Tagore’s long and deep engagement with the Jallianwala Bagh episode, where he gave up his knighthood in protest to his opposition of Nehru’s idea to build a memorial on the site, Sarmistha shared that it made an integral part of her journey of tracing people’s stories and their emotional connections with the site of the massacre. She has drawn on a lot of her own observations during her visit to the Jallianwala Bagh Memorial Site in 2016.

Prof Jagmohan Singh, nephew of Bhagat Singh, in his valedictory address, spoke on why the British kept referring to the revival of 1857 in the events preceding the Jallianwala Bagh tragedy. “It was the fear of Hindu-Muslim unity, which was visible during protests and Ram Naumi festival and it frightened them,” he said.

During the technical sessions, Prof Harish Sharma spoke on Manto and his literary work on Jallianwala Bagh while Prof Sukhdev Singh Sohal addressed a session on Ghadrite reading of the massacre.

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#Guru Nanak Dev University GNDU #Jallianwala Bagh Amritsar

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