At about 5 pm Brigadier-General Reginald Edward Harry Dyer, Commander 45th Brigade, entered the Jallianwala Bagh. His troops, ninety in all, were deployed right and left and almost immediately opened fire on the innocent, unarmed and unsuspecting crowd. No warning was given; no time was allowed for dispersal.
Jalianwala Bagh massacre of April 13, 1919 was one of the saddest days in Indian history. A mixed crowd of men, women and children, drawn from Hindu, Sikh and Muslim communities, estimated to be about fifteen to twenty thousand, had gathered at the Jallianwala Bagh to register their protest British persecution of Indians and listen to the speeches of their leaders.
It was an unarmed, peaceful crowd which sat on the lawns of the Bagh on Baisakhi day which was Sunday, April 13, 1919. The people were seething with anger against the 1919 Rowlett Acts. Unfortunately for the crowd, the Jallianwala Bagh was an open enclosure surrounded by walls and buildings, five to ten feet high, with only one narrow lane leading to a narrow entrance. There were just three or four openings on the other side. These passages were so constricted that they could be clogged by a jostling crowd.
Those who took cover were spotted, hunted and killed in the hail of bullets. The firing went on and on, the soldiers loading and reloading their rifles. The intention was to kill. The wanton massacre continued for ten minutes. When it stopped, according to the official estimate which was considered conservative, 337 men, 41 boys and a seven week-old infant were killed. 1,500 men and boys lay wounded.
Dyer promulgated the 'Crawling Orders' in Amritsar which had been placed under marital law. Under the Order all Indian passing the Kusha Kaurhianwala between 6 am and 8 pm had to go down on all fours and crawl.
As many as 1650 rounds were fired, 500 people were killed and more than 1200 wounded with ten minutes. Bhagat Singh visited Jallianwala Bagh on the next day of this massacre and collected a packet full of blood soaked soil which be kept at his home. On April 15 aeroplanes bombed suspected rioters.
The Jallianwala Bagh massacre accentuated political awakening in India and brought Mahatma Gandhi to the forefront of Indian political life. The bullet marks can be seen to this day on the boundary walls of the garden. Jallianwala Bagh has been turned into a spacious and well-laid park where people from all parts of the country come to visit.