I have been publishing my translations from Rash Behari Bose’s book, “The Indian Struggle For Independence”, in the order in which he wrote them, however in light of the present time of year I would like to move ahead momentarily to some of the topics that he addresses further on in his book.
In this post, I will touch on one of the many sections in which he writes about the events surrounding the Amritsar massacre. Throughout his writings, Bose continues to return to this incident, each time focusing on different aspects as they relate to the topic at hand, as it was a pivotal turning point in the move for Indian independence.
In one such section, Bose writes that by 1917, the Indian National Congress and the Indian people at large were in widespread agreement that the autonomy of India must be secured. There were differing opinions on how this could be achieved, with some suggesting that they work together with the British and look towards the example of places such as Canada, while others proposed that India aim for total independence and expel Britain all together.
Not long thereafter, the British government offered a promise that they would help India establish its own independent self-government contingent upon their assistance in achieving an Allied victory in World War I. The Indian public erupted into joyful elation and dedicated tremendous effort and sacrifice to the war effort.
After the conclusion of the war, faced only with the newly instated Montague-Chelmsford Reforms, the people of India fell into indignation over such an insufficient measure. Sensing their discontent, the British government responded by establishing the infamous Rowlatt Act which laid out in clear terms the dire situation that the Indian public would now face.
In his writings, Rash Behari Bose goes into the details of these events, elaborating on the extent of the sacrifice that Punjabis had made during the war, all with the promise of an independent India. He also addresses the contents of the Rowlatt Act, the public response, and the implications that the Act held for Indian society.
Directly preceding the fateful events that would soon unfold at Jallianwala Bagh, Bose speaks of the increasing tensions in Punjab that eventually led to a protest in front of the residence of the Deputy Commissioner of Amritsar. General Reginald Dyer was soon dispatched to suppress the public.
Then, on April 13, Bose writes that large crowds of people had gathered from all across the region to enjoy the festivities at Jallianwala Bagh Garden, Amritsar, in celebration of Vaisakhi. The plaza overflowed with people, young and old, as their faces lit up with excitement and joy unaware of what would soon follow.
Bose writes in great detail about the events that unfolded that day, the aftermath, and the results of the investigations that followed. He provides us with the statements of firsthand witnesses, including the well-known personage, Alice Coomaraswamy, otherwise known as Ratan Devī.
Bose’s book also covers the first War of Independence in 1857, and explains how India came to be trapped in the situation that it was presently facing at the time of his publication.
His books were originally written in old Japanese in such a manner that their contents could be understood by any Japanese citizen who was not familiar with Indian history and Western colonization. Bose dedicated his time to writing materials that would spread understanding of India’s history, culture and tribulations with people far beyond the Indian borders.
The contents of the pages that I have summarised above will take time to work through and translate, but when I complete these valuable passages, I will include them on this site along with the rest of the posts.