At Jallianwala Bagh, ban on protests, gatherings till November 6
The restrictions under Section 144 of the CrPC were ordered as several demonstrations had been planned against the renovation of the site, the police said.
The Amritsar district administration has imposed Section 144 of the Criminal Code of Procedure in and outside Jallianwala Bagh till November 6, The Tribune reported on Thursday.
With this, protest rallies, sit-ins, meetings and the assembly of more than five people have been banned at the site.
Amritsar Deputy Commissioner of Police Parminder Singh Bhandal said that the restrictions were placed in view of the fact that several organisations were planning to hold protests against the renovation of the site.
“There is a historic memorial of martyrs in Jallianwala Bagh and holding protest rallies is not right there,” the order by Bhandal said, according to the Hindustan Times.
Jallianwala Bagh is a revered site in India’s freedom movement.
On April 13, 1919, claiming that he had ordered restrictions on public gatherings in the city, British General Reginald Dyer ordered his troops to open fire on a large crowd that had gathered in Jallianwala Bagh to peacefully protest against the arrest of two nationalist leaders.
Dyer had blocked all exits to the complex and ordered British soldiers to fire at the protestors. He had ordered the soldiers not to stop firing until all their ammunition was exhausted.
According to the report of the Hunter Commission, set up by the British in 1920 to inquire into the killing, 1,650 rounds were fired by soldiers and at least 379 people had died. However, other accounts suggest that the toll could be much higher.
Large gatherings were also banned in Amritsar during the 100th anniversary of the incident in 2019.
A controversy erupted last month after the site was redeveloped, sparking concerns about the erasure of history. Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the renovated memorial on August 28.
As part of the Bagh’s makeover, the walls of the narrow lane – through which the soldiers led by Dyer accessed the area – have been embossed with sculptures. The points of entry and exit to the Bagh have also been changed, and a lotus pond has been built around the main structure.
The “Shahidi Khu [Martyrs Well]”, where people cornered by the British soldiers jumped in to save themselves from the firing, has now been enclosed with a glass shield.
Amid criticism, the Centre had said that the site was renovated with “utmost respect” and that it was in dire need of conservation.
On Thursday, Deputy Commissioner of Police Bhandal said that protests and sit-ins can lead to fear of damage to public and private property. “It is prudent to take the preventive steps to maintain the law and order and protect the life and property of common people,” he said.
Meanwhile, Aam Aadmi Party’s in charge of the district Jeevan Jyot, Communist Party of India leader Amarjeet Singh Asal, Folklore Research Academy president Ramesh Yadav, activist Bhupinder Singh Sandhu and rationalist group Tarksheel Society chief Sumeet Singh have jointly announced a dharna at the Bagh on September 14 at 11 am.