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On the 101st anniversary of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre, one of the worst tragedies India has seen, here are four books by women everyone needs to read.
13th April 1919 was the day that saw one of the worst tragedies of the Indian freedom struggle. It was the day that the British Acting Brigadier-General Reginald Dyer ordered his army to open fire on unarmed civilians at the Jallianwala Bagh in Amritsar. This led to a stampede and killed as many as 400 women, men and children and injured a 1000 more.
This year, while we maybe in a lockdown, remembering those who were killed in the massacre is still possible. We need to recall some important books about the cataclysmic part of the Indian history, especially the ones written by women. Here we have a four books on the Jallianwala Bagh that try to chronicle and remember history and the forgotten memories.
by Anita Anand
This is a book based on a series of interviews and archival material based on the life of Indian revolutionary, Uddam Singh. Singh became known for assassinating Michael O’Dwyer, who condoned General Dyer’s actions at Jalianwala Bagh.
Authored by Anita Anand it was published in April 2019 before the 100th anniversary of the tragedy. The book spans 25 chapters and explores the massacre. It provides an in-depth account of Uddam Singh’s trial when he was prosecuted under the Freedom of Information Act.
The first part of the book tells the story of Dwyer, while the second part gives us an in-depth focus on Singh’s childhood and life leading up to his trial.
You can find the book on Amazon right here and on Amazon US here.
By Pushpa Palat and Raghu Palat
Co-authored by Pushpa and Raghu Palat, this book is a tribute to Sir Chettur Shankaran Nair. He was a larger than life figure in the historical discourse on the Indian Freedom Movement.
The Palats were inspired to write this story after visiting the Jallianwala Bagh memorial in Amritsar. They focused on his role in communicating the truth about the event. Nair resigned from the government and travelled to Britain the defend the rights of Indians and proved to be a key part of struggle for independence.
You can find the book on Amazon India and on Amazon US.
By Anita Goyal and Aastha K Singhania
This is a collection of 15 stories from women living in the United Kingdom as they reflect on India’s clamorous past. These include the Partition as well as the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre in 1919. They reflect on the hybridity in their newfound identities and how they embraced a new culture, time and place.
These are classic reflections of first-generation Indian immigrants in the UK who still re-live their shared, collective memories and stories of their pasts. The book adds a very unique dimension to the massacre as it sheds light on memory, trauma and nostalgia in the context of globalisation and immigration experiences.
You can find the book on Amazon India right here and on Amazon US here.
By Savita Narain
This book offers an objective insight into how history has assessed and analysed the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre, particularly by British and Indian Historians. It looks at how they compare and contrast with other historians.
Interestingly, the book also offers a significant contextualisation and critique on colonisation and India’s experience during this period. The author, Savita Narrain, who has lived in Britain all her life, shares a close connection to this piece in Indian history. This since her family was heavily involved in the freedom movement.
You can find the book on Amazon India here and for Amazon US here.
These books, offer a unique lens into the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre that subverts the commonly held notions and narratives of this gruesome and fractured historical chapter. They also remain stories and histories that have been brought to life by these authors deserve to be celebrated during this day of tragedy and remembrance.
Picture credits: YouTube and a still from the movie Legend of Bhagat Singh
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Shivani is currently an undergraduate political science student who is passionate about human rights and
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