'Disneyfication' of Jallianwala Bagh reason for controversy


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Recently revamped Jallianwala Bagh Smarak, which was inaugurated by PM Narendra Modi on 28 August, started a big controversy and has drawn a lot of flak from Historians. Jallianwala Bagh massacre took place on April 13, 1919, over 100 years ago, in Amritsar, Punjab. People of Punjab had gathered in the garden to celebrate Baisakhi and for a peaceful protest, unaware of the martial rule which had been imposed by Sir Michel O’ Dwyer on April 11, but the message reached Amritsar only on April 14. Col R E H Dyer, who was then holding the temporary rank of Brigadier general, along with his troops, marched into the city to warn people against the assembly of over four people, but the announcement did not reach many. People assembled in Jallianwala Bagh to peacefully protest against the arrest of Dr. Satyapal and Dr. Saifuddin Kitchlew, who had been arrested for opposing the Rowlatt Act. Jallianwala Bagh is a courtyard with a well, surrounded by tall buildings and a narrow passage which was the only way to enter/exit. General Dyre, on hearing about the meeting, marched into the Bagh with 50 heavy soldiers. It is said that General Dyre ordered his troops to fire at the assembly with no warning. A total of 1,650 rounds were fired, with the official death toll recorded by British Officials being 376 while the Indian historians say the death toll was about 1000. The Jallianwala Bagh has undergone many repairs in the past years but the narrow alleyway,200 yards long and 150 yards wide, has been left untouched as a reminder of the horror that India suffered under British rule. This alleyway has been the major topic of controversy. Before and after pictures of the alleyway, shared by historian Kim A. Wagner has led to a storm on social media, with netizens claiming that there has been an attempt of ‘erasing history’. Before the renovation, the walls had shown the horrors of that day. But now, it shows hi-tech galleries lit with laser lights and has been adorned with murals on both sides.

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