More than 1,000 unarmed and peaceful civilians were massacred in Jallianwala Bagh, Amritsar, on Besakhi Day on April 13, 1919.
Soldiers led by a British general marched to the ground and fired 1,650 rounds to disperse a public meeting of about 20,000.
The people had gathered to protest against the arrest of their leaders, Barrister Saifuddin Kitchlew and Dr Satya Pal, during a nationwide agitation against the authoritarian powers which the British authorities retained even after the end of the World War I.
This policy was vehemently opposed by Indian leaders, including Jinnah. Consequently, there were large-scale disturbances in Punjab which were suppressed with ruthless measures, including an air raid on Gujranwala.
This situation made a deep impact on the country. Mahatma Gandhi observed: “Plassey laid the foundation of the British Empire, Amritsar has shaken it.”
Following the horrifying massacre, the people demonstrated unity and transcended political and religious affiliations. The leaders of Muslim League and National Congress held simultaneous annual sessions of their parties in Amritsar in December 1919.
Jallianwala Bagh is commemorated annually in India, it is time Pakistan does so as well.
Published in Dawn, April 12th, 2015
On a mobile phone? Get the Dawn Mobile App: Apple Store | Google Play