Published: 31st August 2021
What The FAQ: What was the purpose of Jallianwala Bagh National Memorial? How did it come about?
The Nehru government set up the Jallianwala Bagh National Memorial Trust on May 1, 1951. It was inaugurated in 1961 by President Dr Rajendra Prasad in presence of Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru
The Modi government is under heavy criticism from historians who believe that the authorities are ‘Disneyfying’ the Jallianwala Bagh Memorial and erasing the memories of that atrocious day of April 13, 1919, when Col Dyer opened fire on a group of peaceful protesters, killing almost 1,000 of them. We take a look back at the incident that brought India together and shocked the world.
What happened at the Jallianwala Bagh in 1919?
The purpose of Jallianwala Bagh National Memorial is to pay homage to thousands of innocent lives that were massacred by Col R E H Dyer. Dyer marched into the Bagh with at least 50 soldiers and opened fire without any warning at those who were protesting the Rowlatt Act, which let the government arrest people without any warrant or trial. According to the colonial powers, 376 persons were killed in the firing, the youngest of whom was 9 and the oldest 80. Indian historians say that the toll was more than 1,000.
What were the reactions to the massacre at the time?
The massacre had shaken the nation and had given sleepless nights to many. So much so that Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore returned his knighthood, and described the incident as “without parallel in the history of civilised governments”. This was the precursor to Gandhi's non-cooperation movement. Even Winston Churchill described the massacre as “a monstrous event, an event which stands in singular and sinister isolation”.
When was Jallianwala Bagh National Memorial set up?
The Nehru government set up the Jallianwala Bagh National Memorial Trust on May 1, 1951. The government commissioned American sculptor Benjamin Polk to make the flame of liberty at a cost of Rs 9.25 lakh. However, the memorial was inaugurated only in 1961 by President Dr Rajendra Prasad in the presence of Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru.
Who governs it today?
The Prime Minister is the head of the memorial trust and permanent members include the Congress president, Punjab Chief Minister, Governor, Union Culture Minister, and Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha.