Rudyard Kipling had written a poem titled “The White Man’s Burden” in 1899 for Diamon Jubilee of Queen Victoria. However, he sent another of his poems “Recessional” for that. He sent “The White Man’s Burden” instead to the New York Governor Theodore Roosevelt as advise on management of an empire.
Roosevelt sent the poem to his friend, Senator Henry Cabot Lodge with the following comment – “rather poor poetry, but good sense from the expansion point of view.”
So much for the people who were hoisted as creative and progressives.
On April 13th, 1919 – General Dyer entered Amritsar’s narrow lanes with hundreds of troops comprised of 2-9th Gurkhas, the 54th Sikhs and the 59th Sind Rifles soldiers. Just two days back Marcella Sherwood, an English missionary had been beaten by a mob because of the high tensions in the city and was rescued by an Indian – father of one of her pupils. Due to the violence in the city, martial law had been announced by April 13 which restricted freedom of assembly. On April 12, a meeting was held at the Hindu College, where it was decided that at 14.30 on April 13, there would be a protest against the Rowlatt Act organised by Muhammad Bashir and chaired by Lal Kanhyalal Bhatia.
That afternoon in Jallianwala Bagh, Dyer had a plane overfly to estimate the crowd at 6,000; while the Hunter Commission estimated that it was between 10,000 to 20,000. As a testimony to his demonic ways, it must be remembered that neither he nor Deputy Commissioner Irving stopped the crowd from assembling. They let people gather that day. “For idea was not to disburse, but to teach Indians a lesson” – Dyer would reveal later.
Two armored cars with machine guns and hundreds of troops with machine guns – 50 of whom were armed with .303 Lee–Enfield bolt-action rifles.
The entrances, including the main one were blocked. The main entrance were blocked by troops and the armored cars behind them.
Then for next 10 minutes started the most horrific mayhem in human history, where the troops deliberately fired at the densest areas of the crowds for maximum damage. Some estimates say over 1500 or even 2000 people died that day including a six-week old baby!
A week later, on April 19th, General Dyer – the Butcher of Amritsar – visited Marcella Sherwood, the missionary who was badly beaten up but rescued by an Indian man – ordered that every Indian man using that street, where the incident happened, to crawl its length on his hands and knees with the explanation – “Some Indians crawl face downwards in front of their gods. I wanted them to know that a British woman is as sacred as a Hindu god and therefore they have to crawl in front of her, too.” Sherwood, the woman who though beaten by a mob had been rescued by an Indian – chose to sanctify the misgivings of those who had beaten her up by justifying Dyer’s horrific massacre by calling him a “as the ‘saviour’ of the Punjab”.
While many, it is said, criticized Dyer for his demonic acts, he was also eulogized and declared a hero. House of Lords, for example, heralded him as a hero. On July 8th, 1920, the local paper Morning Post opened a fund for Dyer’s benefit. A fund where many Army folks from Calcutta to Colombo as well as the Duke of Westminster contributed. Also many newspapers in India contributed to the fund for Dyer – the Calcutta Statesman, the Rangoon Times and Press, the Madras Mail, the Englishman.
But the man who backed Dyer and shocks one the most was the writer Rudyard Kipling. The writer of the popular Jungle Book. He is known to have called General Dyer as the “the man who saved India”!
Kipling, who celebrated the enslaving and colonizing by the British and Americans in his poem “The White Man’s Burden”, showed his real self in his love for General Dyer, the butcher of Amritsar!
That is why, using Jungle Book as a proxy to showcase India’s life by the Western media and Cinema is such a cruel joke on India! Worse, all these years, the Indian governments have included his stories as part of our syllabus – installing this bigot racist Kipling as a writer revered!
History and narrative on India is nothing but a big joke!