13th April, the name of Odisha capital which has changed from “Tribhubaneswar” or “Bhubaneswar”after freedom. The foundation of the new capital Bhubaneswar was laid by Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru on 13 April 1948 & the assembly of Odisha was shifted from Cuttack to Bhubaneswar.
Today everyone in the state capital & Odisha is celebrating it’s 69th birthday but years before when Bhubaneswar declared as capital, something horrible happened on the same day that shook the entire nation, “The Jallianwala Bagh massacre”.
On Sunday April 13, 1919, which happened to be ‘Baisakhi’, one of the most celebrated occasion of India, fifty British Indian Army soldiers, commanded by Brigadier-General Reginald Dyer, began shooting at an unarmed gathering of men, women, and children without warning. This was a cold-blooded genocide. This is probably the most simple and honest way of describing what happened at Jallianwala Bagh.
Dyer ordered soldiers to reload their rifles several times and they were ordered to shoot to kill. Apart from the many deaths directly from the shooting, a number of people died in stampedes at the narrow gates or by jumping into the solitary well on the compound to escape the shooting.
The wounded could not be moved from where they had fallen, as a curfew had been declared – many more died during the night. Such a heinous incident triggered a nationwide uproar. Even the British nationals were furious about the massacre. However, Dyer was lauded for his ‘feat’ and honored at the House of Lords in England. The Jallianwala Bagh massacre ignited the first spark of the Indian freedom movement, which led to the fall of the British empire.
On 13th April 1919, a Sikh teenager who was being raised at Khalsa Orphanage named Udham Singh saw the happening with his own eyes and avenged the killings of 1300+ of his countrymen by killing Michael O’Dwyer in Caxton Hall of London. On the 31st July, 1940, Udham Singh was hanged at Pentonville jail, London.