Revisiting Colonial Cruelty at Jalianwala Bagh
by P R Kalia,
(Bilingual-English & Punjabi), 2019, Edmonton, Progressive People’s Foundation, pages 152

The Book on Jalianwala Bagh

Chaman Lal

This memorial volume has been brought out to commemorate hundred years of Jallainwala Bagh in the form of collection of some important writings related to Jallianwala Bagh colonial cruelty. The volume is dedicated to-The Honour of: Martyrs of Jallianwala Bagh & Innocent people being killed each day by fundamentalists. Preface to the volume is written by one of the trustees of Desh Bhagat Yaadgar Committee Jalandhar-Naunihal Singh. In introductory note the author/editor Prithvi Raj Kalia thanked many of his friends in bringing out this volume on behalf of Progressive Peoples Foundation Edmonton.

The volume begins with a longer essay of 45 pages-Revisiting Colonial Cruelty at Jallianwala Bagh. In this essay the author narrates the happenings in Jallianwala Bagh by referring to the background of the cruellest happening during colonial regime. He refers to 1917 Malaria epidemic in Punjab, succeeded by devastating Plague epidemic and the global pandemic of influenza, which is now being referred in context of Corona pandemic hundred years later. Author underlines the immediate provocation of Rowlett act, which resulted in ghastly Jallianwala Bagh tragedy. Major dates in the whole tragic happening began from 30th March 1919 Hartal at the call given by Mahatma Gandhi,  followed by 6th April nationwide strike, 9th April harmonious Ram Naumi celebrations in Amritsar, scaring the British colonial officials, then exile of Dr. Kitchlew and Satyapal to Dharmashala, violence on 11th April, finally leading to 13th April bloody Vaisakhi, clamping of Martial law in Punjab and its consequences throughout Punjab for months together. Later recall of General Dyer, British enquiry and Congress enquiry into the happenings, which were widely different in conclusions.  Later assassination of Michael O’Dwyer n London by Udham Singh and memorial to Jallianwala and centenary commemoration. It is like short history of the tragedy.  Panjabi translation of the same has been done by Kamal Dosanjh, which is immediately followed by English text.

In the Appendix, the classic poem of famous Punjabi novelist Nanak Singh-Khooni Baisakhi, written in 1920 and proscribed is reproduced in Punjabi and its English translation published in 2019 on centenary commemoration, done by grandson of the novelist Navdeep Suri is annexed. A Hindi poem-Jallianwala Bagh men Vasant by renowned Hindi poet Subhdra Kumari Chauhan is also annexed in original Hindi. Panjabi translation of two Urdu stories by Manto and Krishan Chandra are also annexed. Manto story is 1919 ki baat and Krishan Chander story is Amritsar-Azadi se pehle. Final annexure is List of 383 martyrs reproduced from Raja Ram book-Jallianwala Bagh Massacre. There is short bibliography of books and other sources and acknowledgement of the sources.

This volume is an apt tribute to the commemoration. P R Kalia has earlier brought out commemoration volumes on Bhagat Singh in 2007, Ghadar Party in 2013 and First Soviet Socialist Revolution in 2017 and many more publications in Punjabi, Hindi and English-all brought out by Progressive People’s foundation of Edmonton-Canada. Prithvi Raj Kalia was with Haryana Sahitya Academy Panchkula and migrated to Canada after retirement and is producing significant progressive publications. He is also bringing out four language journal-The Asian  in Punjabi, Urdu, Hindi and English.

Chaman Lal is a retired Professor from JNU and Honorary Advisor to Bhagat Singh Archives and Resource Centre, New Delhi. He is presently Dean, Faculty of Languages, Panjab University Chandigarh.

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Jun 5, 2020

Prof. Chaman Lal

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