On 13th April, 1919, Hans Raj and other leaders gave a call to gather at Jallianwala Bagh in Amritsar to protest against the arrests of Dr. Saifuddin Kitchlew and Dr. Satyapal.
Hans Raj, prior to General, Dyer’s arrival, was in possession of the audience estimated at 20,000. He and a few others were standing on an improvised platform marked on the plan. An aeroplane was hovering over the meeting before the arrival of the troops. Hans Raj asked the meeting not to be afraid. The audience included many ooys and children, and some men had come with infants in their arms. The people had no lathis with them. There were some C. I. D. men also at the meeting. Two of them were seen talking to Hans Raj. General Dyer deployed 25 soldiers to the right and 25 to the left, on the high ground on the north side of the rectangular space.
After the massacre a committee headed by Lord Hunter was formed here I am sharing the answers given by General Dyer to the committee which in itself shows his barbaric nature and anti-Indian racial attitude. :—
Question — When you got into the bagh, what did you do ?
Answer — I opened fire.
Q — At once ?
A — Immediately. I had thought about the matter and don’t imagine it took me more than 30 seconds to make up my mind as to what my duty was ?
Q — As regards the crowd, what was it doing ?
A — Well, they were holding a meeting. There was a man in the centre of the place on something raised. His arms were moving about. He was evidently addressing. He was absolutely in the centre of the square, as far as I could judge. I should say some 50 or 60 yards from where my troops were drawn up.
The General had admitted that there might have been a good many who had not heard of his proclamation that any general meeting of the public had been banned.
So Lord Hunter asked, “On the assumption that there was that risk of people being in the crowd who were not aware of the proclamation, did it not occur to you that it was a proper measure to ask the crowd to disperse before you took that step of actually firing?”
A — No, at the time I did not. I merely felt that my orders had not been obeyed, that Martial Law was flouted, and that it was my duty to fire immediately by rifle.
Q — Before you dispersed the crowd, had the crowd taken any action at all ?
A — No, Sir. They had run away, a few of them.
Q — Did they start to run away ?
A — Yes. When I began to fire, the big mob in the centre began to run almost towards the right.
Q — Martial Law had not been proclaimed. Before you took that step, which was a serious step, did you not consider the propriety of consulting the Deputy Commissioner who was the civil authority responsible for the order of the city ?
A .— There was no Deputy Commissioner to consult at the time.
I did not think it wise to ask anybody further. I had to make up my mind immediately as to what my action should be. I considered it from the Military point of view that I ought to fire immediately, that if I did not do so, I should fail in my duty.
Q — In firing was it your object to disperse ?
A — No, Sir. I was going to fire until they dispersed.
Q — Did the crowd at once start to disperse as soon as you fired ?
A — Immediately.
Q — Did you continue firing?
A — Yes.
Q — After the crowd indicated that it was going to disperse, why did you not stop ?
A — I thought it was my duty to go on until it dispersed. If I fired a little, I would be wrong in firing at all.
Then in reply to a variety of questions, General Dyer said he continued to fire for about 10 minutes, and that he had no “military experience to use similar methods of dispersing crowds”; “he could have dispersed them, perhaps even without firing”. But he fired, because “they would all have come back and laughed at him and he would have made a fool of himself. His reasons for firing, he has given, in answer to another question, as follows
“I thought they were trying to assault me and my forces suddenly. All these pointed that this was a wide spread movement which was not confined to Amritsar alone, and that the situation was a wide military situation which was not confined to Amritsar.” The General had fired 1650 rounds of ammunition. He admitted also that if he could have taken the armoured cars into the bagh, he would have done so and opened fire with them, that he stopped shooting, when he did, because the ammunition had run out, and that the crowd was very dense. He had made no provision for aiding or removing the wounded. It was not then his doty to render aid. That was a medical question. As soon as the firing ceased he retired. From time to time, he “checked his fire and directed it upon places where the crowd was thickest,” and that he did, not because they were not going fast, but because he (the General) “had made up his mind to punish them for having assembled.”