The 22nd Congress of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) resolves to observe the Centenary of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre throughout the year until April 13, 2019.
On April 13, 1919, Baisakhi day, hundreds of people from Amritsar and adjoining areas, gathered in the Jalianwala Bagh to protest against the draconian Rowlatt Act, enacted by the British colonial regime to be used against the rising national movement.
There was widespread resistance to the Act in the country. After a strike on March 30, when Gandhiji was not allowed to enter Punjab, the situation became explosive. The British Deputy Commissioner ordered the arrest and deportation of Dr. Saifuddin Kitchlew and Dr. Satya Pal, nationalist leaders after inviting them to his office for discussion.
On the occasion of Baisakhi, a festival celebrated by all communities in Punjab, many Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs drank water from the same glasses, shared food and gathered in Jallianwala Bagh, next to the Golden Temple. It is located in a congested part of the town and can only be entered through a narrow gate. Around 5.00 p.m., while Hans Raj, an activist, was addressing the assembly Colonel Dyer, whose soldiers had encircled the Bagh after closing the only exit, ordered them to fire on the unarmed people.
Initially, the Governor of Punjab, O’Dwyer, admitted to 291 deaths. Later, the Hunter Commission of Enquiry, admitted to more than 300 killings but did not prescribe any punishment for Dyer. The Congress Party instituted its own enquiry committee and came to the conclusion that more than 1000 deaths had occurred.
The revolutionary, Udham Singh, who was a 15-year old orphan in Amritsar, witnessed the massacre. Many years later, in 1940, he shot Michaeal O’Dwyer dead. The hated Dyer had already died in 1927. Udham Singh was executed in London on July 31, 1940.
Bhagat Singh was a was a 12-year-old student at Lahore at the time of the massacre. He visited Jallianwala Bagh and carried some bloodstained mud from there. This is still preserved in the Bhagat Singh Memorial museum. The massacre left a lasting impression on the minds of these young revolutionaries.
On March 31, 1919, Rabindranath Tagore returned his knighthood to protest the massacre. The famous Punjabi novelist Nanak Singh wrote a long poem at the time, KhooniBaisakhi which was perhaps first Punjabi publication to be proscribed by the British government. It played a role in strengthening an anti-colonial consciousness.
The 22nd Congress of the CPI(M) calls on all units of the Party to observe the centenary of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre through a variety of events and programmes all over the country. It calls upon them to use the occasion to revisit the lessons of the struggle and to understand the people’s resolve to free India from the colonial yoke.