Remember to not forget

Remember to not forget

“Dull would he be of soul who could pass by, a sight so moving in its poignancy,” the late British Poet-laureate Sir Stephen Spender para-
phrased William Wordsworth’s famous line from his sonnet Upon Westminster Bridge when he came to India and visited Amritsar’s Jallianwala Bagh in 1959. He broke down and cried copiously.

Those were not crocodile tears or ‘tears of an Englishman’ (W B Yeats’ derogatory phrase for a treacherous Englishman), but of a sensitive poet’s who was genuinely moved by the sight of Jallianwala Bagh and was appalled by what one of his countrymen committed on April 13, 1919. Moreover, it was Baisakhi, the beginning of Sikh New Year.

The human civilisation will never forget this sanguinary episode perpetrated by a heartless Englishman Colonel Reginald Dyer, who out-Heroded all the earlier misdeeds of utter cruelty.

Those who’ve ever visited Amritsar’s Jallianwala Bagh can vouch for the fact that the sombre ambience of the place instantaneously transports a visitor back to the day this bloody incident took place. You get goosebumps and fall in with the great British thinker and Nobel laureate Sir Bertrand Russell in thinking, “Only a human can stoop to this level and when he stoops, he puts even demons and devils to shame.” The event bears testimony to man’s unthinkable barbarism. The phrase, ‘death’s dance macabre’ practically unfolded on that day 100 years ago.

When you’re at the memorial park, you shudder to think of the deplorable fate that befell innocent people who had assembled there for a peaceful protest to Rowlatt Act. The irony that those unarmed souls fell to the bullets fired by Indian soldiers at the behest of a cruel English
Army officer saddens you all the more.

The pity is that England hasn’t yet officially apologised for the Jallianwala massacre despite its many level-headed nationals condemning this act in no uncertain terms. The Guardian’s hard-hitting editorial on the next day urged the Queen to apologise on behalf of all the Brits scattered across the globe. But no official apology was ever issued.

The US unconditionally apologised for bombing the Japanese cities Hiroshima and Nagasaki during the World War II on August 6 and 9, 1945 respectively and Germany apologised for the Holocaust and the Nazi excesses, but Great Britain chose to keep mum on this issue.

It will, therefore, be in the fitness of things for today’s generation to remember how ruthlessly the Brits ruled the subcontinent and how audaciously they treated the people of this country during their oppressively dictatorial rule of 200 years. They exploited, ravaged and plundered undivided India.

They call themselves a 'civilised race' with India-born imperialist poet Rudyard Kipling condescendingly justifying British rule as 'a white man's burden'. but these so-called 'civilised' people savagely decimated countries and communities when they colonised nearly half of the world.

On the 100th year of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre, we must collectively shed tears and again urge the British government to own up the deliberate blunder of one of their fellow citizens. This blood-soaked chapter needs a formal, not perfunctory, closure.