Tony Gould

A blot on the imperial escutcheon

The massacre of nearly 400 unarmed civilians and the wounding of over 1,000 others in Amritsar’s Jallianwala Bagh (a barren enclosure walled in by houses) on the unlucky 13 April 1919 has a far greater historical resonance than the incident would seem to merit. This is not to make light of what the Secretary of State for War, Winston Churchill, speaking in the House of Commons, called ‘an extraordinary event, a monstrous event, an event which stands in sinister isolation’, accusing the perpetrator of the deed, Brigadier-General Dyer, of ‘frightfulness’ (a word then redolent of German atrocities in the first...

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