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Amritsar Massacre

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Today, 13 April, marks the 100th anniversary of the Armitsar Massacre. 

On 10 April 1919, there was a protest at the residence of the Deputy Commissioner of Amritsar. This was to demand the release of two popular leaders of the Indian Independence Movement. For the next two days Amritsar was quiet, but violence continued in other parts of the Punjab. Railway lines were cut, telegraph posts destroyed, government buildings burnt and Europeans murdered. By 13 April, the British government had decided to put most of the Punjab under martial law. The legislation restricted a number of civil liberties, including freedom of assembly; gatherings of more than four people were banned.  On the evening of 12 April, the leaders of the hartal in Amritsar held a meeting at which it was announced that a public protest meeting would be held the following afternoon in the Jallianwala Bagh.  The Hunter Commission estimated that, on 13 April, a crowd of 10,000 to 20,000 had assembled by the time Brigadier-General Dyer reached the Bagh at 1730 hours an hour after the meeting had started. The main entrance was blocked by armed troops backed by armoured cars. There was no attempt to warn the crowd to disperse or even, it appears, that the troops would open fire. Firing continued for approximately 10 minutes. Many people died in stampedes at the narrow gates or by jumping into the solitary well on the compound to escape the shooting. The official British count of casualties was 379 dead with 1100 wounded.The Indian National Congress estimate was that about 1000 were killed, with over 1500 injured.

22nd Motor Machine Gun Battery were not involved in the massacre; whether they had already been deployed to Punjab is not clear. From evidence given at the Hunter commission they were certainly involved in subsequent policing operations in the remainder of the Punjab.  Along with half squadrons from the 18thand 19th Lancers, they were operating in the Sialkot and Wazirabad areas of Punjab on policing and patrol duties from 19 April 1919, with Maj Molony linking in with Capt JAS Ewing of the19th Lancers.

 

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