Why did General Dyer Open Fire?

By BYJU'S Exam Prep

Updated on: November 9th, 2023

General Dyer opened fire on the crowd at Jallianwala Bagh to severely enforce the Martial Law that was in place at the time in Amritsar. General Dyer surrounded the protesters in response to the public gathering. Only one side of the Jallianwala Bagh could be used as an exit because buildings surrounded the other three sides. He ordered his troops to open fire on the crowd after blocking the exit with his men, and they did so even as the protesters tried to flee. The soldiers continued to fire their ammunition and massacred hundreds of innocent civilians until their ammunition ran out.

Open Fire by General Dyre at Jallianwala Bagh

On April 13, 1919, there was a massacre at Jallianwala Bagh, also referred to as the Amritsar massacre. To protest the Rowlatt Act and the detention of pro-independence activists Saifuddin Kitchlew and Satyapal, a sizable peaceful crowd had gathered at the Jallianwala Bagh in Amritsar, Punjab.

  • When martial law was declared in Punjab, more than four people gatherings were prohibited. Michael O’Dwyer was serving as Punjab Lieutenant General at the time. Lord Chelmsford headed India.
  • Peaceful protesters gathered at Jallianwala Bagh, a public space in Amritsar, on April 13, 1919, the day of the Baisakhi festival.
  • Moreover, pilgrims were there to commemorate the festival of Baisakhi.
  • The only limited entrance to the garden was closed when General Dyer arrived with his troops.
  • He suddenly ordered his soldiers to open fire on the defenseless crowd, including children.
  • 1650 rounds were consumed after about 10 minutes of random fire.
  • As a result, more than 1,500 people were injured, and at least 1,000 died.
  • Indians were brutally shocked by this disaster, which ultimately damaged their faith in the British judicial system.
  • National leaders roundly condemned Dyer and the act.


Why did General Dyer order to open fire on peaceful demonstration at Jallianwala Bagh?

General Dyer opened fire on the crowd at Jallianwala Bagh in order to strictly enforce the Martial Law that was in effect at the time in Amritsar. General Dyer also wanted to send a message that there would be no resistance to British colonial rule in India. He ordered his troops to block the only entrance of the Bagh and opened fire on innocent civilians, including children. As a result of this heinous act, more than 1000 people died, and thousands were injured.

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