While the country is going to observe 100th anniversary of Jallianwala Bagh massacre next month, Amritsar district administration is not sure whether it has any original record related to the incident. District administration and Jallianwala Bagh National Memorial Trust are also not on the same page over the number of people killed during the massacre.
According to secretary of the trust, Sukumar Mukherjee, and an information board inside the bagh, as many as 379 people had died in the its premises on 13 April, 1919 when Colonel Reginald Edward Harry Dyer ordered the firing on a peaceful assembly.
However, a memorial installed by Punjab government just outside Bagh, on the heritage walk street leading to the Golden Temple, suggests that 501 people were killed.
In a list with the district administration, out of the 501 names, 473 are available and some serial numbers are left blank.
Sukumar Mukherjee said, “Nobody asked me before installing memorial in front of Jalianwala Bagh. I don’t know from where they have taken those 501 names. I don’t know which list administration have. According to my knowledge, 379 people had died.”
British government had also given compensation to the victim families after the dust around the incident was settled. Compensation was also given to the injured in the incident. History suggest that there was lengthy official written communication between different offices. However, Amritsar administration is not confident if any paper of that record is with them.
Amritsar Deputy Commissioner, Shivdular Singh Dhillon, said,”I don’t know if record is missing or something. There was a big fire in the DC office in 2015 and the record room was burnt in that fire. May be some record (related to Jallianwala Bagh) was there. So far I have found nothing (related to old record) that should suggest that it was produced by British government at that time.”
He said, “But we have a list. However, we don’t know what is the authenticity of that list. Some serial numbers are left blank in that list. maybe some bodies were not identified . We exactly don’t know the reason behind blank serial numbers.”
“Most important thing is that sanctity and dignity of martyrs should be maintained. So it doesn’t look nice at this moment that we should make any speculation about the list,” said the deputy commissioner.
When asked if a clarification is required on the status of record ahead of the anniversary, the DC said, “Sometimes it is very easy to ask questions but maybe officials don’t have answers to those questions. How can officials tell you now about whether the British maintained that record or not.”