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Amritsar, 1919

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Few incidents in the British rule of India have given rise to more acute controversy than Dyer's drastic action at Amritsar on April 13th, 1919. Whatever its rights and wrongs, it was indeed a decisive step towards "the end of Empire".

General Reginald Dyer in about 1919Shortly after half past four on the afternoon of April 13th, 1919, a detachment of seventy-five native troops - fifty of them armed with rifles - marched into the Jallianwala Bagh in Amritsar, where a prohibited meeting was in progress. At the command of the British officer in charge, Brigadier-General R. E. H. Dyer, and without any warning to the crowd, the fifty riflemen opened fire and continued to do so for ten minutes, each man expending thirty-three rounds. Before their ammunition was exhausted, and while part of the milling crowd remained undispersed, the cease-fire was given and the detachment marched out the way it had come. Of a crowd, later estimated as between fifteen and twenty thousand, 379 people were killed and about a thousand wounded.


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