This post was edited by dostoevskydr at 2016-4-14 17:13|
Of the eight, the Hunter Committee had three Indian members. The conduct of the Indian members is a study in principled independence and courage.
Example of the Cross Examination of General Dyer
Chimanlal Setalvad: "You took two armoured cars with you?"
Chimanlal Setalvad: "Those cars had machine guns?"
Chimanlal Setalvad: "And when you took them you meant to use the machine guns against the crowd, did you?"
Dyer: "If necessary. If the necessity arose, and I was attacked, or anything else like that, I presume I would have used them."
Chimanlal Setalvad: "When you arrived there you were not able to take the armoured cars in because the passage was too narrow?"
Chimanlal Setalvad: "Supposing the passage was sufficient to allow the armoured cars to go in, would you have opened fire with the machine guns?"
Dyer: "I think, probably, yes."
Chimanlal Setalvad: "In that case the casualties would have been very much higher?"
Chimanlal Setalvad: "And you did not open fire with the machine guns simply by the accident of the armoured cars not being able to get in?"
Dyer: "I have answered you. I have said that if they had been there the probability is that I would have opened fire with them."
Chimanlal Setalvad: "With the machine guns straight?"
Dyer: "With the machine guns."
Chimanlal Setalvad: "I take it that your idea in taking that action was to strike terror?"
Dyer: "Call it what you like. I was going to punish them. My idea from the military point of view was to make a wide impression."
Chimanlal Setalvad: "To strike terror not only in the city of Amritsar, but throughout the Punjab?"
Dyer: "Yes, throughout the Punjab. I wanted to reduce their morale; the morale of the rebels."
Chimanlal Setalvad: "Did it occur to you that by adopting this method of 'frightfulness' ─ excuse the term ─ you were really doing a great disservice to the British Raj by driving discontent deep?"
Dyer: "I did not like the idea of doing it, but I also realized that it was the only means of saving life and that any reasonable man with justice in his mind would realize that I had done the right thing; it was a merciful though horrible act and they ought to be thankful to me for doing it. I thought I would be doing a jolly lot of good and they would realize that they were not to be wicked."
This erudite exchange on the pointed killings ordered by Dyer on April 13, 1919 ─ the Jallianwala Bagh massacre ─ took place during the hearings of the Hunter Committee. The hearings took place in Lahore on November 19, 1919. These questions were part of a detailed and rigorous cross examination of General Dyer. It was Sir Chimanlal Setalvad, a lawyer from Bharuch, Gujarat, based in Bombay who had conducted this particular cross-examination.
Setalvad’s cross-examination followed Lord Hunter’s and that of one more British member. Dyer had already admitted to Lord Hunter that although 'a good many' in the crowd might not have heard of his ban on the public meeting, he had ordered the firing at Jallianwala Bagh without giving any warning.
He went further when he said before the Committee that, although he could have "dispersed them perhaps even without firing', he felt it was his 'duty to go on firing until (the crowd) dispersed'.
An eight-member committee headed by Lord William Hunter, former solicitor general in Scotland, constituted the Inquiry Committee. Apart from Setalvad, then Vice Chancellor Bombay University, two other Indians were part of the Committee. Sir Chimanlal Setalvad, Pandit Jagat Narain, Member of the Legislative Council of the Lt. Governor of UP and Sultan Ahmed Khan, Member for Appeals, Gwalior State.
Lord Hunter, Justice Rankin and WF Rice, Additional Secretary to the Government of India, Home Department, Major-General Sir George Barrow, Commanding the Peshawar Dn and Smith, Member of the Legislative Council of the Lt. Governor of UP were the members. The questioning was done, in turn, by eight members.
Following up on the admissions by Dyer to the two British members before him, Setalvad probed Dyer on the two armoured cars that he had been forced to leave out. Dyer’s callousness stood exposed: even after the firing had left almost 400 dead and many more injured.
When asked by Setalvad if he had taken any measures for the relief of the wounded, Dyer replied, "No, certainly not. It was not my job. But the hospitals were open and the medical officers were there. The wounded only had to apply for help."
All three Indian members of the Hunter Committee displayed a remarkable degree of independence faced with sharp differences with the British members. The differences arose over the recording of conclusions.
The Hunter Committee ended up giving two reports ─ the majority report by the five British members and the minority report by three Indian members.
Both reports indicted Dyer, in no uncertain terms. The differences were in in the degree of condemnation, in so far as Jallianwala Bagh was concerned.