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Jallianwala Bagh massacre: When a British newspaper collected 26,000 pounds for General Dyer


Morning Post, a conservative British newspaper, raised a hefty sum of “26,000 pounds” for the benefit of General Reginald Dyer — the man behind the dreadful Jallianwala Bagh massacre, according to a recently-released book.

“It started with an article, titled ‘The Man Who Saved India’, which was written just days after Dyer was removed from his post by the British authorities in July, 1920,” according to the book, ‘Jallianwala Bagh’.

“…there are thousands of men and women in England who realise the truth — that the lives of their fellow-country-men in India hung upon the readiness of General Dyer to act as he acted,” reads the article. “It is to those men and women that we appeal, to do what is in them to redress the callous and cynical wrong which has been done. General Dyer has been broken.”

The fund, according to author Kim Wagner, saw people from all over the British empire and from all walks of life contributing to support Dyer, including “Rudyard Kipling, who gave 10 pounds”.

“When the fund eventually closed, more than 26,000 pounds had been raised, which meant that Dyer could retire in comfort and without financial concerns,” he added.

Wagner pointed out some pseudonyms used by people who contributed in the fund, saying it revealed something of the “mindset and politics mobilised by the fund”.

‘One who remembers 1857’, ‘The Prince of a White Man Slain’, ‘In gratitude to General Dyer, from an Englishwoman who heard the mob’, ‘A Widow who remembers reading, when a child, of the horrors of 1857’, ‘An Old Anglo-Indian,’, Wagner said.

Overwhelmed by all the love coming his way, Dyer wrote a letter of thanks that was subsequently published in the Morning Post.

“I am proud to think that so many of my fellow-countrymen and women approve of my conduct at Amritsar, and I accept the token of their approval in the spirit in which it is offered,” reads the letter.

India on Saturday marked the centenary of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre, when troops of the British Indian Army, under the command of Dyer, fired indiscriminately at a crowd holding a peaceful meeting on April 13, 1919, leaving hundreds of people dead.

Published by Penguin Viking, the book ‘Jallianwala Bagh’ claims to provide an innovative and nuanced approach to the dramatic events in Amritsar and unearth untold narratives that shed new light upon the bloody history of the British empire.

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