MASSACRE in AMRITSAR
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ENGLAND had not expected such an outpouring of SUPPORT from INDIA at the start of World War One.
Indian PRINCES and CITIZENS contributed MILLIONS (BILLIONS in today's currency) to the war effort, HUNDREDS of THOUSANDS of TROOPS, WEAPONRY, FOOD, CLOTHING; They were TOTALLY committed to BRITAIN'S VICTORY.
NOW, in 1919, the always tenuous relationship between the two countries was once again beginning to FRAY.
INDIA was promised INDEPENDENCE at the end of the hostilities, a THANKS from Britain for all their LOYAL SUPPORT. But, now that the war was over, the promise of freedom was being put on the back burner. The IRISH were becoming an even larger problem...
There was talk of REVOLT all over INDIA. in a few cities, small UPRISINGS had broken out, causing the emergence of the great MOHANDAS GANDHI.
Gandhi stressed PEACE. Most INDIANS listened. After all, GANDHI had served in the WAR, so his opinion in peacetime was highly valued. This began GANDHI'S rise in INDIA.
An ENGLISHWOMAN, a MISSIONARY, claimed that she was FONDLED by a NATIVE on the streets of the PUNJAB City AMRITSAR.
BRIGADIER GENERAL REGINALD DYER issued a PROCLAMATION:
ALL INDIANS who required usage of the street that the woman was molested on MUST CRAWL the length of the avenue on their HANDS and KNEES.
There would be indiscriminate PUBLIC WHIPPINGS of any NATIVE that walked within arms reach of any BRITISH OFFICER.
On April 13, 1919, there was a PUNJABI gathering at the TEMPLE JALLIANWALLA BAGH. The object: To PEACEFULLY discuss and PROTEST DYER'S extreme measures.
There were over 2,000 people packed into the small temple.
GENERAL DYER appeared at the HEAD of a contingent of SOLDIERS. He had TWO MACHINE GUNS mounted on the back of two large VEHICLES. He ordered the TROOPS to OPEN FIRE without warning.
ALL DOORS and WINDOWS were BLOCKED by DYER'S TROOPS earlier.
The FIRING lasted EIGHT MINUTES.
...until the AMMUNITION RAN OUT.
PEOPLE PANICKED, many leaped into a DEEP WELL at the CENTER of the temple to escape the hail of bullets. 120 bodies were later pulled from it's depths.
They SHOT those packed against the walls.
They SHOT all who cowered on the GROUND.
1000 were KILLED, though the BRITISH GOVERNMENT later set the number at 379. 1500 were wounded.
DYER admitted that he ordered his men to fire without warning in order to "TEACH the PUNJABS a MORAL LESSON".
He was HAILED as a HERO by MILLIONS of BRITAINS. The LONDON MORNING POST fully supported DYER and, together with it's readers, put together a TESTIMONIAL in honor of the MAN.
The rest of the WORLD didn't agree.
DYER was PROMOTED to MAJOR GENERAL, and placed on the INACTIVE list.
There was a DEBATE scheduled in the HOUSE of COMMONS over DYER'S RETIREMENT PAY.
The HOUSE was entirely ready to give DYER full funds, until WINSTON CHURCHILL took the stage, denouncing DYER as a COWARD. He pointed out calmly that the amount of people killed that day was roughly equivalent to the amount of people gathered in the HOUSE of COMMONS before him.
HE destroyed DYER with one line in particular stating, in effect, "THERE is no BRITISH PHARMACEUTICAL for FEAR and COWARDICE..."
CHURCHILL wanted ACTION taken AGAINST DYER. Instead, DYER was allowed to retire quietly....