On 13 April 1919, on the auspicious day of Baisakhi festival, a large crowd of fifteen thousand Sikhs, Hindus and Muslims, gathered at the Jallianwala Bagh in Amritsar. The city had been placed under curfew after a violent confrontation between the police and a local procession protesting against the Rowlatt Act promulgated by the British. The army had taken over. Many of those gathered at the Jallianwala Bagh had come from neighbouring villages and may not have known about the curfew order.

The British saw in the Jallianwala Bagh congregation a great conspiracy being hatched, aimed at toppling their rule. Determined to crush the “conspiracy” before it could develop further, they decided to teach the crowd a lesson. And so, Brigadier General Dyer reached the place with his troops and immediately ordered fire, without giving any warning to the crowd to disperse. The troops fired 1650 rounds, killing hundreds and wounding over a thousand.

Having exhausted the ammunition, Dyer ordered his troops to retreat, leaving the dead and the wounded behind. This ten-minute massacre at Jallianwala Bagh was etched in Indian history as a dark blot on British rule in India and turned into a big spark to ignite the flames of...

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