The only tourist guide at Jallianwala Bagh, Deepak Seth, was Friday busy making preparations for the 100th anniversary of the massacre.
More than a professional obligation, it is an emotional moment for 38-year-old Seth, whose great grandfather, Gobind Ram Seth had fallen to the bullets opened by the British troops at a peaceful gathering at the Bag on the Baisakhi day on April 13, 1919.
Seth clarifies at the outset that he didn’t get the job due to his family background.
“I had to appear in a test and an interview to get this job. I didn’t get this because my great grandfather had died at Bagh,” he said.
Seth had joined duty as a tourist guide at the Bagh in 2010.
“I am employed here to tell the story of Jallianwala Bagh massacre. It is also the story of my great grandfather but I have never told tourists that fact. I do not do so because it may be misconstrued that I am looking for some personal favour,” said Seth.
He said that hundreds of visitors come to Jallianwala Bagh every day. “Many of them have basic information about what happened here, but then we also get some people who come here after proper research and approach me to know more about the history of this place”.
“I have seen people crying after looking at the bullet marks on the walls. They treat this Bagh as a temple. Some of them offer coins as well. At the same time, I have also seen people come here to click selfies. For them, it is just another picnic spot”.
He recalled an incident. “Once a group of school students had come from Bengaluru. The teacher who accompanied the students was telling them that Chandra Shekhar Azad was killed here and he promised the kids to show them the spot where Azad’s blood fell. I later called him to where I was standing and told him that his version of history about Jallianwala Bagh was wrong. I told him the real story. Later, he told me that he was a history teacher at school,” said Seth.
The tourist guide said his family sold their house in the city where his great grandfather used to live. “He had a garments shop. My grandfather was in his teens when my great-grandfather died at the age of 35 in Jallianwala Bagh. Baisakhi is a festival. But in our family, it is a day to remember our great grandfather who died for this country”.