101 yrs on, ‘official’ list of 492 Jallianwala martyrs out

101 yrs on, ‘official’ list of 492 Jallianwala martyrs out

Martyrs’ names inscribed on the memorial at Jallianwala Bagh.

GS Paul
Tribune News Service
Amritsar, January 19

Over a century after the Jallianwala Bagh massacre, an official list of 492 martyrs has been revealed amid a debate over its authenticity.

The list has been uploaded on the Amritsar administration’s website. The relatives of martyrs have been asked to submit documents to ascertain their antecedents. Today, 11 persons submitted relevant documents, claiming to be the descendants of the martyrs.

Confusion over exact number

  • Confusion over the number of deaths remains. Historian VN Datta has mentioned that around 700 persons were killed
  • The list made by the British then had 501 persons as dead or injured with many “unidentified”. It was revised to 492
  • A board standing in the precincts of the Jallianwala Bagh earlier put the death toll at 379 and around 1,500 injured

A state-level function has been scheduled to honour the martyrs’ kin on January 25 at Anand Park in Ranjit Avenue where a separate memorial would be unveiled.

The administration has appealed to the public to approach the Deputy Commissioner’s office by January 22 if they have information about the martyrs’ kin. Besides, all MLAs, councillors and sarpanches have been approached with the list.

DC Gurpreet Singh Khaira said efforts were being made to ascertain the list’s genuineness. “We are trying to reach out to the kin of the martyrs. It was quite a cumbersome process to identify all, given the fact that the list didn’t have proper contacts and addresses,” he said.

However, confusion over the number of deaths and the uncertainty over their names remains with multiple lists projecting different figures. Historian VN Datta, who authored the pioneering work on Jallianwala Bagh (1969), has mentioned that around 700 persons were killed.

His daughter and associate professor Nonica Dutta, Department of Historical Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, said her father had zeroed in on this estimate on the basis of local police records. Quoting Dutta’s research, she said at the meeting of the Imperial Legislative Council held on September 12, 1919, Congrerss leader Madan Mohan Malaviya had stated 1,000 persons had been killed in the massacre. “My father had also questioned both the official and Congress estimates. There is no clarity on the number of martyrs to date,” she said.

The list of the dead and injured prepared by the British then for the purpose of awarding compensation has several discrepancies. Lying at the DC’s office, the list has 501 individuals with many marked as “unidentified”. The list was pruned to 492, as several serial numbers were left blank.

A recent study by the Partition Museum Trust put the number at 547 with the names of 45 not known. A board in the precincts of the Jallianwala Bagh earlier put the death toll at 379 and around 1,500 injured. This was published by the Jallianwala Bagh National Memorial Trust. Also, it was inscripted at the martyrs’ well from where 120 bodies were recovered later on.

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