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A walk into Jallianwala Bagh on 66th Independence Day

Wednesday August 15, 2012 06:45:04 PM, Priyanka Sharma, IANS

Amritsar: It's been over 90 years since British troops led by Brigadier Reginald Dyer fired at unarmed Indian protestors at the Jallianwala Bagh here. But walking through the narrow passage, leading to the now clean, green and well-maintained park whose walls still bear the bullet-marks, manages to evoke a connect.

As you step through the only entry to the park, a stone plaque there reads - "This is the place where the bullets were fired from."

You can almost visualise the scene from April 13, 1919.

Hundreds of people still come to visit the historical site, located in a congested area near the holy Sikh shrine Harmandar Sahib, popularly known as Golden Temple.

And on the 66th Independence Day, it was no different at the place, now a national memorial spot.

"The Jallianwala Bagh massacre was one of the most tragic incidents in Indian history, so the place is certainly very important in context of the nation's independence. It is very heart-wrenching to see the bullet marks and makes us realise the sacrifices behind the freedom we have today," Hema Upadhyay, a tourist, told IANS.

It is hard to think how, from a lane, where even three people can't walk side by side comfortably, one man managed to perpetrate a massacre, leaving a reported 379 dead, and over 1,100 injured.

For several youngsters, the site takes them back to their history books, but the experience of seeing the bullet marks and "the well" in which several people jumped to their death to escape bullets, is all together different.

The bullet marks are clearly visible as they have been highlighted on the walls, and the 'Martyrs' Well' is covered by a steel net.

"It's something we have been reading about in our history textbooks since childhood. Going there is truly an overwhelming experience. It makes us realise what people had to go through to get us independence," said a college student named Ritika.

Neeta Sharma, a housewife, says once you enter the Jallianwala Bagh, "you automatically go back into the history and start imagining what the atmosphere would have been like on that fateful day."

According to an administration source at the Jallianwala Bagh, most tourists come here during the weekends or on holidays.

"You can say if 100,000 people come to Golden Temple, double the people come to see the Jallianwala Bagh," the source said when asked about the general crowd at the spot at any given point of time.

"A lot of tourists come from Maharashtra and down south. Many choose to first visit the Golden Temple and then they come to the Bagh, roam around, rest and also learn about the history. The people are still eager to know what happened here exactly," added the source.

The Bagh is never shut, and unlike most historical sites, has no entry ticket.

It is very well-maintained, clean and green and people across all ages come to see the park, including young couples who don't mind strolling hand in hand.

Right in the centre is a huge memorial tower erected in honour of those who died in the massacre.

There is also a museum with black and white photographs describing the incident.






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