The Jallianwala Bagh Massacre that killed thousands of Indian is one of the scariest and tragic events in Indian history. But there is more to this story than one person unleashing violence on these innocent souls, trapped within a confined space and jumping walls and throwing themselves into a well to escape death by raining bullets.
Sir Chettur Sankaran Nair, a short-tempered and shrewd lawyer’s faith in the English court of Justice took him all the way to the King’s Bench in London. Here he is seen fighting a defamation case filed by Sir Michael O’Dwyer, the one whose policies eventually led to the Jallianwala Bagh shooting.
‘The Case That Shook India’ starts from Punjab during Ranjit Singh, followed by its unethical capture by the East India Company. Thus began a cycle of oppression and unspeakable violence that will shake you to the core. Lord Dalhousie put an end to the Sovereign rule of Sikhs over northwest India and the British then imposed many different laws that questioned the existence of humanity in their hearts. Restriction of freedom of the press, the house arrest of hundreds of Indians, Rowlatt Act, the law that every Indian had to salute any British officer, etc were just a few of them. India was particularly shaken by World War I and these laws didn’t make life any easier for the Sikhs. On the day of Baisakhi, they planned to silently protest against the government, unaware that it was to turn into a graveyard of innocent masses.
As Nair proceeds to write a book on the terror unleashed by the British Raj, he faces a massive backlash from the government, finally leading to a defamation case.
‘The Case That Shook India’ is not just a case, but how biased the British jury was, turning a blind eye to all the atrocities brought about by their people on thousands of innocent Indians. A case that was lost way before it went to court, and a scenario that highlights the shrewd politics that was in play during the British rule in India. This event later fueled the Indian struggle for freedom, while Nair could never get over the loss both mentally and financially.
I would recommend this book only if you are interested in everything that happened with Punjab and its people from a factual point of view. The book deals with real and accurate historic events and hence, engaging is not something I associate it with, However, the author duo has done a remarkable job at assimilating and relaying most of the significant events that led to the trial, simultaneously shaping multiple minds on what the Raj truly stood for.
Blurb (as on Goodreads):
30 April 1924.
At the Court of the King’s Bench in London, the highest court in the British Empire, an English judge and jury head the case that would change the course of India’s history: Sir Michael O’Dwyer, the former Lieutenant Governor of Punjab – and the man whose policies led to the infamous Jallianwala Bagh massacre – had filed a defamation case against Sir Chettur Sankaran Nair for having published a book in which he referred to the ‘atrocities’ committed by the Raj in Punjab.
The widely-reported trial – one of the longest in history – stunned a world that finally recognized some of the horror being committed by the British in India.
Through reports of court proceedings along with a nuanced portrait of a complicated nationalist who believed in his principles above all else, The Case that Shook the Empire reveals, for the very first time, the real details of the fateful case that marked the defining moment in India’s struggle for Independence.
*Thank you to the publisher for a copy of the book. All opinions are my own*