Rebuttal of the claims of Dr. P. Chatterjee
By Kamlesh Kapur- Historian
Main conclusion of the author:
Humiliation of one Muslim = 3000 lives of Sikhs and Hindus in Jallianwala Bagh (a conservative estimate)
This was an amazingly unhistorical article from a person who claims to be a historian. The author perhaps has never visited Jammu and Kashmir state. By definition, anthropological and sociological spins to events presented out of context cannot be of any value (except as an exercise in political theories) much less of historical significance. Most of the American academia persistently indulge in theorizing events in India, which is otherwise rarely mentioned as a nation/country but goes by the name South Asia. Dr. Chatterjee seems to be no different. I wonder whether Dr. Chatterjee visited Kashmir or Jallianwala Bagh, Amritsar.
Based on the facts (known as evidence); I would like to point out the odious comparisons and erroneous conclusion drawn from an assumed moral high ground expressing indignation on behalf of the outraged humanity. Either the author is unaware of the rules for military intervention or he does not understand what is diplomatic way of defusing a charged situation.
Starting with the first sentence, there are no similarities in the two events chilling or heartwarming.
So, here are the facts of the background and the actual events of Jallianwala Bagh Massacre:
British won the WW1 with the help of the Indians in the army and the general public who made sacrifices.
The British government felt that some grand gestures needed to be made to ensure future cooperation of the army and the public.
While the war was still going on, the newly appointed Secretary of State made the grand declaration in the British Parliament on Aug. 20.1917, it said “that British policy aimed at “increasing association of Indians in every branch of the administration and the gradual development of self-governing institutions with a view to progressive realization of responsible government in British India as an integral part of the British Empire”.
This declaration was followed by the Act of 1919. This act introduced diarchy, or dual government, in the provinces, where the executive was to be headed by a governor appointed by the Secretary of State, who could consult the Governor General. The governor was responsible to the Secretary of State for acts of omission and commission. He was to maintain law and order in the province and ensure that the provincial administration worked smoothly. In respect of transferred subjects, he was to be assisted by his ministers whereas reserved subjects were to be administered by the Governor General and his executive council.
The members of the Executive council were to be appointed by Secretary of State and were responsible to him in all matters. There were certain matters that he was to administer at his own discretion, in which he was responsible to the Secretary of State. Each councilor was to remain in office for a period of four years. Their salaries and service conditions were not subject to the vote of provincial legislature. All decisions in the council were to be taken by a majority of votes, the Governor being able to break ties. The Government of India Act 1919 virtually amounted to declaring that the heads you lose and tails we win.
After the end of the war, Indians hoped that they would get self-rule. However, dashing Indian expectations, the oppressive behavior of the British rulers started oppression with greater force. Restrictions were placed on religious gatherings and any perceived threat to the crown was dealt with severely.
To make the matters worse, several new laws were passed to stop and eliminate the freedom fighters. One of the most heinous act was Rowlatt Act. In 1917, Rowlatt proposed this act to investigate the militant activities of the nationalists. It was approved and passed in March 1919. According to this act, any person could be arrested on the basis of a mere suspicion. No appeal or petition could be filed against such arrests. Known as the Black Act, it was widely opposed. An all-India hartal (strike)was organized on 6 April 1919. Meetings were held all over the country. These protests later came to be known as Rowlatt Satyagraha. Many prominent freedom fighters were arrested and the administration was handed over to the military under General Dyer. Dyer immediately banned all public meetings. Punjab was virtually under military seize.
On April 13th, 1919, people of Amritsar (Punjab) and some neighboring districts gathered at Jallianwala Bagh. This is a small garden with high walls and five narrow entrances. This celebration is an annual feature all over the country; nothing particular about that day and that year. Over 10000 people came to celebrate Baisakhi- the harvest festival of Punjab and Punjabi New Year. The news of such a ban on religious gathering never reached the villagers.
Dyer marched in and positioned himself on the high wall; he opened fire on the innocent unarmed crowd. The firing continued for about 10 to 15 minutes and it stopped only after the ammunition was exhausted after approximately 1,650 rounds were spent. The stunned public rushed towards the narrow exit. Many perished in the stampede. Most of them succumbed to death because of continuous firing. Dyer—without warning the crowd to disperse—blocked the main exits. He explained later that this act “was not to disperse the meeting but to punish the Indians for disobedience.” Dyer ordered his troops to begin shooting toward the densest sections of the crowd. All except one gate were closed so that, no one could escape. Some people jumped in the well, the soldiers mercilessly shot these people as well. The official estimate of the death toll was over 1000 and about 500 who were wounded later succumbed to death. The actual number of casualties ran in the range of 5 + thousands of people
This was considered to be the worst massacre in recent history of un-armed men, women and children.
There was a nationwide protest against this massacre and Rabindranath Tagore renounced his knighthood as a protest. The Jallianwala Bagh massacre gave a tremendous impetus to the freedom struggle. Many young men and women outraged by the brutalities wanted to take a revenge.
There were moderate freedom fighters but larger number accepted that other than militant means, the British will not leave on their own.
Many writers worldwide expressed their extreme disgust over the conduct of the general. Here are a few quotes:
‘What causes this awful and growing impoverishment of the Indian people?’ Said John Bright, “If a country be found possessing a most fertile soil, and capable of bearing every variety of production, and, notwithstanding, the people are in a state of extreme destitution and suffering, the chances are there is some fundamental error in the government of that country.”
Even before this ghastly event, the British had been propagating that they were doing a favor to the Indians.
Lord Curzon mentioned, “Powerful Empires existed and flourished here [in India] while Englishmen were still wandering painted in the woods, and while the British Colonies were a wilderness and a jungle. India has left a deeper mark upon the history, the philosophy, and the religion of mankind, than any other terrestrial unit in the universe.” He added that, ‘the principal condition of the strength of the British throne is the possession of the Indian Empire, and the faithful attachment and service of the Indian people.” This implied that the subjugated Indians were willing and happy to be slaves of the British!! (Delhi Durbar- 1901).
However, for Churchill, it was sheer unmasked hatred.
‘I do not agree that the dog in a manger has the final right to the manger even though he may have lain there for a very long time. I do not admit that right. I do not admit for instance, that a great wrong has been done to the Red Indians of America or the black people of Australia. I do not admit that a wrong has been done to these people by the fact that a stronger race, a higher-grade race, a more worldly-wise race to put it that way, has come in and taken their place.’
He expressed his feeling about Indians in a letter to Leo Amery, Secretary of State for India,
‘I hate Indians. They are a beastly people with a beastly religion.’
Now, Dr. Chatterjee, these facts will give you a really chilling experience; where the sheer hatred and vindictiveness was the cause and the effect was massive genocide.
Now let us discuss the difference between criminality of an action and the moral ground for an action.
Criminality is premeditated, intent is there to do maximum harm, there is a plan to execute the agenda of savagery on innocent families of children on a day which is considered to be the holiest day in Punjab. Logic and common sense are to be used to differentiate between excessive force and force as needed on the spur of the moment. This attack was premeditated and well planned; it was not a knee-jerk reaction. This savagery was the most horrendous till the 1945 dropping of the atom bomb in Japan happened. Even today, a visitor to the Bagh can see the blood stains and holes in the brick walls.
The situation was the opposite
Here, the cause was widespread bloody riots preceding the election and an extremely dangerous situation prevailed on the day of the election. Military decisions are not made sitting in the airconditioned offices and the ivory towers of the academia. Discretion, expedience, ingenuity and a sense of the timing make the difference between massive bloodshed and dispersal of the rioters. If humanity were to weigh the pros and cons of that day’s army decision, it will find the former heavier than the humiliation of one person. The goal of military action is always the defense of innocent people with minimum casualties and bloodshed. The army tries utmost restraint not to escalate the situation.
In Kashmir, the rioters are the infiltrators and their hired mercenaries. These terror attacks (a part of full- fledged and ongoing proxy war) have been going on for seven decades. Instigated by Pakistan’s army, planned by ISI of Pakistan and encouraged by all the non-state actors whose agenda is:
- To break India as a country,
- To keep India involved in insurgencies,
- To facilitate the rapid conversion of Hindus,
- To put breaks on the development projects.
In Columbia University, India does not exist in their curriculum guidelines for educators of world history and it certainly does not exist in their mindset.
Why the army is needed?
Unlike many western countries, in India, people do not have the right to bear arms not even a sword (except for a small section of the people). In the face of danger and rampant lawlessness, who is going to protect the helpless citizens? Government machinery has been working as the legalized mafia incorporated. Police has neither the weaponry nor the modern devices to be prepared to handle the spur of the moment terrorist’s insurgencies. Besides, the police follow the political agenda of the politicians.
In Kashmir, the civilians are a shield for the infiltrators to hide them and to engage in riots on their behalf or alongside with them. The Government machinery in the state is gutless and cannot ensure anyone’s safety. What did they do to prevent the exodus of 40 thousand pundits in 1989-1990? For Hindu pilgrims to Amarnath Cave, the government has not been able to provide roads, even toilets or shelters if stranded. Western conscience is interestingly either on mute button or is non-existent depending on the situation or the people involved.
Who helped the refugees fleeing Pakistan in 1947? I witnessed the savagery of the Muslims before they left Amritsar. Some of our relations stuck in Shekhupura explained that only a handful of Hindus and Sikhs could escape. Why?
In the preceding years, 1945-1947, only the Muslims were recruited in the police and the municipal committee; the deputy commissioner and his staff were all Muslims. They surrounded the Hindus and Sikhs so that, they do not leave alive. Punjab’s Partition archives have narratives after narratives of these brutalities. This will require a separate book. Here it is mentioned to emphasize that in situations of fanatic savagery, the police are either ineffective or chooses to side with their brethren. What is happening in Kashmir is the replay of the events of the 2 years mentioned above. Stone pelting is not innocent pranks by innocent youngsters. These stone pelters appear as a mob of hundreds. It is planned, it has a motive to kill and harass the citizens and the soldiers.
Stones are not pebbles; these are rocks and even small boulders. In most of the countries, stones are considered weapons just like the kitchen knives.
Stone pelting is considered criminal assault.
Stone pelting with an intent to cause grievous injury is a crime.
Stone pelting with an intent to hurt an armed security officer on duty is seditious crime.
Your indignation and hurt should be directed towards the Victims.
In brief, here are the developments and factual details of the Kashmir issue- A narrative missing from the government annals, history books and the public discourse. Instead, a fake narrative is there in large print. At first it emerged as a myth then Goebbelian lies were stacked and blessed by the entire Western propaganda machinery; ultimately making it the only accepted truth. India became the invader; Indian army became the aggressor and the savage rule of the Sheikhs and company (INC) emerged causing another mass migration of Hindus from their homeland which the world viewed as genuine demand of Muslims for freedom and the right to separate from India.
This did not happen over one night of 1947! A lot of behind the scene activity was there in years preceding the partition. The key co-conspirators to get rid of the then King Hari Singh were Lord Mountbatten, Gandhi, Nehru and Jinnah.
Why was/is J&K so important in British and Muslim calculations? Why did they leave such bloody footprints?
Mountbatten knew Pakistan would be forced to gravitate into the western orbit for American and British aid in the economic and military spheres to keep abreast of India’s abundant natural resources and proven native genius. That was the West’s leverage with the newly created Islamic state of Pakistan to control the territory overlooking China, Afghanistan and Central Asia. What remained with India of the kingdom of Jammu, Kashmir, Ladakh and Tibet, after Pakistan’s invasion and occupation in October 1947, Mountbatten nudged Nehru to take it to the United Nations Security Council to settle the dispute; a dispute that did not exist.
Kashmir issue was thus internationalized; the line of ceasefire was unilaterally accepted as the line of control which divided the integrated province of Raja Hari Singh who had already signed the instrument of accession to join India. This was an invasion of Kashmir. The disputed Kashmir was the north-western part of Kashmir not the eastern part. That was the part of kingdom of Hari Singh which was militarily seized under the governor general Mountbatten who was interim governor general of India and newly formed Pakistan. Under his control, Kashmir was invaded. Mountbatten succeeded in leaving with Pakistan the critically vital territory of the kingdom’s northern areas which adjoined not only Afghanistan and China but also had a small but geopolitically important border with Central Asia.
In retrospect, it must be concluded that events in Jammu and Kashmir between March and November 1947 unfolded as they did because Gandhi, Nehru, Sheikh Abdullah and Mountbatten acted in tandem and with well-coordinated unity of purpose. As an integral part of this undercover operation, Hari Sigh was forced to step down; prior to that his Prime minister, Ramchandra Kak had already resigned. Half of Kashmir was given away to Pakistan; a Muslim Prime minister was placed on the pedestal. The stage was set for continuous strife. Goondagurdy, arrival of illegal Pakistani infiltrators, ISI’s failed wars to conquer the rest of Kashmir made safety of the Hindus unthinkable. With mass exodus of Hindus by the late 80s, Kashmir was under seize of illegitimate government of the clan of Abdullahas. Today besides a few families and the poor people, most of the population seems to be the Muslims from Pakistan.
For seventy years, Kashmir has been boiling in the cauldron.
In the last week of July1989 l, I visited Kashmir with four teenagers. Kids insisted to see a movie at the theater near the river Jhelum. I was able to persuade them not to go. That day, there was an attack on the theater with several casualties. The next day, the hoodlums declared general strike. We ended up spending two days playing cards in the hotel room. We were probably the last tourists to have visited the valley in the next decade or so.
Here is a recent (6.16.17) incident and I am simply quoting Major General G.D. Bakshi, ‘What happened today was disgraceful. A bunch of some 15 Let goons ambushed a J&K Police party. The stone pelting crowds did not let their bodies be evacuated and ensured that the Let Pakis got time to disfigure their faces and take away their weapons. it was disgraceful behaviour not only by the Lashkar goons but also the stone pelting mob who directly connived. Also, those Human rights walas who are Conspicuous by their silence today. We need to strengthen the CI grid density in South and central Kashmir. There is no dearth of troops. We need to enforce crowd control.’
When the political machinery with all its wings- police, executives, lawmakers fail to protect the common citizens and the citizens are not allowed to bear arms; will you the academia and the political theorists plan to go there to control these killings and stop the savageries? I am afraid not! Army has to do what army needs to do. Period!
So, Dr. Chatterjee, stop the comparisons where none exist and without knowing full facts, there is no need for opinionating. People in Kashmir as in America are afraid of terrorists and in every crowded place they look over their shoulders. Nobody is afraid of the army. The soldiers stake their lives on their sworn duty to protect the people when all others fail to do. They are honored and their sacrifices remembered; why not honor these heroes who saved the situation without bloodshed?
 Source- “Jolly Good Fellows and Their Nasty Ways” by Vinay Lal in Times of
India (15 January 2007)
 For more accurate details and further research: The Case for India by Will Durant- pages 131-136
 Check the school curriculum designed by Columbia University for world studies
 Josef Goebbels was the propaganda minister in Hitler’s cabinet. His ability to slant arguments in order to derive the outcome that would best suit him, or his cause was unparalleled. He said,
Think of the press as a great keyboard on which the government can play.”
“The bigger the lie, the more people will believe it.”
“The moment one becomes aware of propaganda, it loses its effectiveness.”
He believed that a lie repeated hundred times becomes the truth.