It is one hundred years since British troops opened fire on defenceless people including women, children and men in the area of the Punjabi city of Amritsar known as Jallianwalla Bagh. It was an enclosed public space where people regularly assembled for meetings or spent leisure time. There were high walls and very narrow alleyways. Gates were locked at the time, and many died escaping the bullets by jumping into a well. This notorious massacre has gone down in history and on the centenary of the event many are lobbying parliament for an official apology of what took place.
Just two hundred years ago people had gathered in such a space in and area of Manchester. As in India armed militia were brought in and an order given to open fire directly into the crowd. This too has gone down in history as the Peterloo Massacre.
A meeting held in Handsworth Birmingham on Saturday, 20th April 2019, remembered both events and attention was drawn to how people have been, and continue to be oppressed by a ruling elite using armed militia. They unite people of India and the UK by the brutality they experienced at the hands of the ruling class in a shared history.
The film Gandhi (1983) recreates events at Jallianwalabagh on April 13th, 1919. A film about Peterloo was released in 2012. An illustrated book about the event is due out to coincide with the bicentenary of the Peterloo massacre in August 1819. Both events should be included in schools’ curriculum.