Jallianwala Bagh MemorialImage

Jallianwala Bagh Memorial Image
©Poco a Poco (Wikimedia)

Gurkhas' qualities of loyalty and self-discipline could count against them when badly led and operating in a politically-charged situation, as at Amritsar, India, at the height of a civil disobedience campaign called by the Indian National Congress. 90 Indian Army troops, including 25 Gurkhas, some of whom were newly trained recruits, were ordered by Brigadier-General Reginald Dyer to fire on an unarmed crowd of demonstrators in Jallianwala Bagh, a walled enclosure outside the holy Sikh temple in Amritsar. Officially 375 people died and over a 1,000 were injured but local authorities put the numbers much, much higher.

This notorious action drew unwelcome attention to the Gurkhas who, in the eyes of Indian nationalists, inspired by Mahatma Gandhi’s non-violent campaign, were the ultimate mercenaries. During the inter-war period in India, as the Indian nationalist movement grew, Gurkhas were widely viewed as tools being used by the British Empire to suppress Indian freedom.

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