FOUNDATION DAY OF NATIONAL ARCHIVES OF INDIA (NAI)
What’s in news?
On the occasion of 130th Foundation Day of National Archives of India (NAI), Union Minister of State for Culture and Tourism inaugurates an exhibition on ‘Jallianwala Bagh on 11 March at the premises of National Archives, New Delhi.
- The present exhibition is primarily presented with the help of original and digital copies of archival documents relating to the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre available in National Archives of India.
- This is an attempt to portray the relentless struggle of the Indian people against the British tyranny through our record holdings.
National Archives of India:
- The National Archives of India is an attached office under the Ministry of Culture. It was established on 11 March 1891 at Kolkata (Calcutta) as the Imperial Record Department.
- Following the transfer of the capital from Calcutta to Delhi in 1911, the present building of the National Archives of India was constructed in 1926 which was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens.
- The transfer of all records from Calcutta to New Delhi was completed in 1937. It is the nodal agency for the implementation of the Public Records Act, 1993 and Public Record Rules, 1997.
Jallianwala Bagh Massacre:
- There were riots and protests against the Rowlatt Act in Punjab.
- Punjab was put under martial law which meant that it became unlawful for more than 4 people to assemble at a place.
- The Lieutenant-Governor of Punjab at that time was Michael O’Dwyer. Lord Chelmsford was India’s Viceroy.
- On the day of the festival of Baisakhi on 13th April 1919 in Jallianwala Bagh, a public garden in Amritsar, a crowd of non-violent protestors had gathered. Also among the crowd were pilgrims who had come to celebrate Baisakhi.
- General Dyer came there with his troops and blocked the only narrow entrance to the garden.
- Then, without warning, he ordered his troops to fire at the unarmed crowd which included children as well.
- The indiscriminate firing went on for about 10 minutes until the 1650 rounds of ammunition were exhausted. This resulted in the deaths of at least 1000 people and injured more than 1500 people.
- This tragedy came as a rude shock to Indians and totally destroyed their faith in the British system of justice.
- National leaders condemned the act and Dyer unequivocally.
- However, Dyer was appreciated by many in Britain and the British in India although some people in the British government were quick to criticise it. Those who criticised his actions included Winston Churchill and former Prime Minister H.H Ashquith
- The government set up the Hunter Commission to inquire into the massacre. Although the commission condemned the act by Dyer, it did not impose any disciplinary action against him.
- He was relieved of his duties in the army in 1920.
- In protest against the massacre and the British failure to give due justice to the victims, Rabindranath Tagore gave up his knighthood and Gandhiji relinquished his title ‘Kaiser-e-hind’ bestowed on him by the British for his services during the Boer War in South Africa.
- Michael O’Dwyer, the then Lieutenant-Governor of Punjab, who had approved the actions of Brigadier-General Dyer, was assassinated by Udham Singh in London in 1940 as revenge against the massacre. Udham Singh is believed to have witnessed the massacre as a child.
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