News: The new-look Jallianwala Bagh memorial that Prime Minister Narendra Modi dedicated to the nation on August 28 was a distortion of history of the site where British troops massacred Indians on April 13, 1919, historians said on Monday.
About Jallianwala Bagh Massacre:
The incident dates back to April 1919, when the British were facing major protests in Punjab against the Rowlatt Act, that let them arrest people without any warrant or trial. Sir Michel O’ Dwyer imposed martial rule in Lahore and Amritsar on April 11, but the order reached Amritsar only on April 14. Alongside, he also sent Col R E H Dyer, who was then holding the temporary rank of Brigadier General, from the Jalandhar cantonment to Amritsar.
On April 13, a Sunday, Col Dyer’s troops marched through the town to warn against the assembly of more than four people. But the announcement did not reach most people, and devotees started making a beeline to the Golden Temple to celebrate Baisakhi. As the day wore, many of them headed to the nearby Jallianwala Bagh, a quadrangle with a well, surrounded by tall houses and a narrow passage, to join the 4 pm public meet against the arrest of Dr Satyapal and Dr Saifuddin Kitchlew. The two had been arrested for opposing the Rowlatt Act, and local leaders had called for a protest meet on the evening of April 13.
Upon hearing about the large gathering, Col Dyer marched into the Bagh with a column of 50 soldiers armed with .303, Lee Enfield and bolt action rifles around 5 pm. It’s said he ordered the troops to open fire without giving any warning. They fired all the 1,650 rounds they had, even though the crowd started fleeing after the first volley. According to the British, 376 persons were killed in the firing, the youngest of whom was 9 and the oldest 80. Indian historians peg the toll at 1,000.
Among those who managed to escape was Udham Singh, then 21. He vowed to avenge the massacre, and shot dead Sir Michael O’ Dwyer at Caxton Hall in London in 1942.
The massacre stunned the country. Nobel laureate Rabindra Nath Tagore returned his knighthood, describing the incident as “without parallel in the history of civilised governments”. Mahatma Gandhi started his non-cooperation movement soon afterwards. Then British parliamentarian Winston Churchill described the massacre as “a monstrous event, an event which stands in singular and sinister isolation”.
Sashti Charan Mukherjee, a homeopath who was present at the Bagh on the day of the massacre, moved a resolution for acquiring the Bagh at the Congress session in Amritsar later that year. Soon afterwards, Mahatma Gandhi made a nationwide appeal for fundraising and a trust was set up with Madan Mohan Malviya as president and Mukherjee as secretary. The British, it is said, wanted to wipe out any sign of the massacre by setting up a cloth market on the spot, but the Indians persevered.
The central government set up the Jallianwala Bagh National Memorial Trust on May 1, 1951. It commissioned American sculptor Benjamin Polk to make the flame of liberty at a cost of Rs 9.25 lakh. The memorial was inaugurated by President Dr Rajendra Prasad in the presence of PM Jawaharlal Nehru on April 13, 1961. The Trust is helmed by the PM who is its chairman, and permanent members include the Congress president, Punjab Chief Minister, Governor, Union Culture Minister, and Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha.
The Jallianwala Bagh has undergone several repairs and touch-ups over the years. But the narrow alley leading to the Bagh had remained untouched for almost 100 years. While many other things changed, the constricted entrance made of Nanakshahi bricks, through which Dyer’s soldiers marched into the Bagh, continued to evoke the horrors of that day. Last year in July, it was rebuilt into a gallery with murals, leaving no trace of the old alley. It’s this break from the past that has led many to question the latest makeover of the memorial.
The narrow lane — which was blocked by British soldiers making it impossible for anyone to escape from the Bagh on that horrific day — now has a shiny new floor. Besides this, it has been partially covered to keep the birds from sitting on the sculptures.
2. ISRAEL – PALESTINE
News: India will support “all efforts” to restart the peace process between Israel and Palestine, Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla conveyed to the UN Security Council meeting on Monday which also witnessed tabling of an important resolution on Afghanistan.
News: Over a period, the number of women associated with hand-spinning of yarns for Pashmina shawls has dwindled significantly in Kashmir, but a rare initiative to double the wages and ensure round-the-year orders is likely to see the re-engagement of women artisans in a critical production process of the world-famous hand-made shawls.
Pashmina refers to a fine variant of spun cashmere, the animal-hair fibre forming the downy undercoat of the Changthangi goat.
The word pashm means “wool” in Persian, but in Kashmir, pashm referred to the raw unspun wool of domesticated Changthangi goats.
Both generic cashmere and pashmina come from the same goat, but generic cashmere ranges from 12 to 21 microns in diameter, whereas pashmina refers only to those fibres that range from 12 to 16 microns.
4. KALKA – SHIMLA RAILWAY
News: A section of people in the Darjeeling hills of West Bengal are protesting against the Centre’s proposed monetisation of the Darjeeling Himalayan Railways (DHR). They have staged protests at 10 stations of the heritage railway that connects New Jalpaiguri with Darjeeling, across 87.48 km.
About Kalka- Shimla Toy Train:
The Kalka–Shimla railway is a 2 ft 6 in (762 mm) narrow-gauge railway in North India which traverses a mostly mountainous route from Kalka to Shimla.
It is known for dramatic views of the hills and surrounding villages.
The railway was built under the direction of Herbert Septimus Harington between 1898 and 1903 to connect Shimla, the summer capital of India during the British Raj, with the rest of the Indian rail system.
On 8 July 2008, UNESCO added the Kalka–Shimla railway to the mountain railways of India World Heritage Site.