On August 28, Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the renovated Jallianwala Bagh site in Amritsar.

The national government set allocated approximately Rs 20 crore in 2019 to mark the 100th anniversary of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre. The memorial has been closed to the public since February 2019 as it underwent a makeover by NBCC Ltd, a government-owned company.

The government has recently given the site a makeover, opening museum exhibits and launching a daily sound and light show depicting the events of April 13, 1919.

Murals and sculptures have been added to the walls of a small path, through which British forces commanded by Brigadier General RH Dyer entered the park, to remember those who died on that fateful day.

The restoration of the Jallianwala Bagh in India’s Punjab state, where British forces previously massacred hundreds of men, women, and children, has sparked a massive debate, with historians accusing the government of “erasing history” of the massacre.

Kim A. Wagner, professor of history in London and author of Amritsar 1919 – An Empire of Fear and the Making of a Massacre tweeted-” Devastated to hear that Jallianwala Bagh, site of Amritsar Massacre of 1919 has been revamped- which means traces of the events have effectively been erased.

Chaman Lal, a historian and professor at India’s Jawaharlal Nehru University, said the project had tried to “mystify and glamourise history”.

“People visiting Jallianwala Bagh should go with a sense of pain and anguish,” he told The Hindu newspaper. “They have now tried to make it a space for enjoying, with a beautiful garden. It was not a beautiful garden.”

One of the trustees of Jallianwala Bagh has said that “These sculptures in the lane will make visitors conscious of those who walked in on that day.”

“Earlier, people walked this narrow lane without knowing its history, now they will walk with history.

WHAT HAD HAPPENED AT JALIANWALA BAGH?

When the Nation was up against the law brought up by the British, Rowlatt Act which gave power to arrest anybody without warrant or requirement of trial in April 1919. On 11 April, the then ruled British governor of Punjab Michel O’ Dwyer then imposed a martial law in Amritsar along with other places in Punjab.

Ongoing the arrest of Dr Satyapal and Dr Saifuddin Kitchlew under the Rowlatt Act, the day of Baisakhi on April 13, saw large crowd gathered at Jallianwala Bagh to protest their arrest.  At that time assembly of four or more groups were banned Colonel Dyer was sent from Jalandhar to Amritsar to impose the martial Law. When the news about the gathering at Jallianwalla Bagh reached Dyer, he marched along with his troops through the passage which was narrow for entry and exit and blocked it completely.

Approximately 1,650 bullets were fired at the gathering, which included many women and children. The massacre claimed the lives of almost 1,000 individuals. It sparked the Indian people’s battle for independence. In protest, Nobel Laureate Rabindra Nath Tagore returned his knighthood.