MARK: GUT wrenching, disgusting, disgraceful. Just simply wrong, wrong WRONG!
How could a British General, yes a BRITISH General give the order to open fire on a crowd of non violent protestors, slaughtering over a thousand men, women and children?
Shoot to kill – lest we forget
I still cannot get this fact out of my head some hours after visiting Jallianwala Bagh in Amritsar. We, probably like you, had seen pictures of the beautiful Golden Temple, but had personally never heard of this brutal British massacre of ordinary people on 13 April 1919.
Under the command of General Reginald Dyer, troops opened fire in the Bagh space area, a 7 acre walled garden which has five small entrances. Over just ten minutes, 1500 bullets were fired in to the crowd, with troops directing their aim largely towards the few open gates that people were trying to flee through.
We saw the deep well, where people jumped to their death to escape the onslaught. We saw the red bricked walls riddled with rifle rounds. We saw Indian people quietly walking around the park, remembering their dead, mourning their dead, praying for their dead.
Sarah and I were the only British people amongst hundreds of Indians.
I was acutely aware that this now beautiful garden complex was where less than hundred years ago my fellow countrymen had behaved in a way that was simply terrible and beyond belief. The sort of behaviour of barbarians – yes British barbarians.
I bowed my head at the eternal flame conscious that many pairs of eyes were looking straight at me. What were they thinking? What hatred was in their hearts? Just who was this tall, overweight Englishman? And what was he doing here at the heart of the atrocity?
At the wall of bullet holes I could contain it no longer. I went up to an Indian man and woman in their mid 70s and said “sorry”, tears streaming down my face, with the salt immediately drying in the baking heat of the 40 degree midday sun. “It was a long time ago” said the man, clearly aware of my distress. “Now we are friends”. I walked off, desperately hunting for a piece of hotel toilet paper to dry my face….
But before I had gone more than 100 metres around the corner a young man and woman came up to me with their baby. They wanted me to hold their beautiful six month old girl so they could take a picture for their family album.
Soon many people were shaking my hand and asking for selfies. I obliged. What could I do? Was this there way of saying that Britain had been forgiven? That they had moved on? That life moves on? That peace is really the only way of life and that man can, and must live and work together?
I’m not sure. What I am sure about, is today was a moving, emotional day. The Golden Temple as the photos below show is a stunning World wonder. But I’m going to let the pictures tell the story here. My words have dried up suffice to say, people over gold and material wealth any day….
FOOTNOTE: UNBELIEVABLE!!! We have just arrived back from the famous India/Pakistan “Wagha” Border ceremony. A brilliant occasion with 10,000 highly excited Indians and six Brits! Leaving the seating area we had walked one km back to our car when I suddenly heard “Mark Mark!!!” It was Garima and family including Grandma. We hugged them all. A crowd gathered round. Photos were taken and now we meet them for lunch at their house in Amritsar tomorrow. See end photo. A stunning day. A moving day. A day to always remember. Now to bed.