On April 13, the 100th anniversary of the Jallianwala Bagh tragedy, this horrific event was commemorated all over the world, including Pakistan and India. The British once again demanded an apology, and General Dyer’s move was sharply criticized, but where people associate General Dyer’s name with imperial arrogance, how many remember Sir O’Brien Metcalfe’s name?
After the Jallianwala Bagh massacre, General Dyer was forcibly retired and sent back to the UK to live a quiet life, but 11 years after the Jallianwala incident, the Metcalfe who massacred dozens of unarmed people in Peshawar’s Qissa Khawani Bazaar Not only did he continue to work for the British Raj after this tragedy but he was also appointed as the Chief Commissioner of Balochistan in 1939 and was awarded many titles including ‘Sir’.
It so happened that on April 23, 1930, Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, a Pakhtun nationalist, peace activist and freedom fighter from the British rule, was arrested by the British rulers. Ghaffar Khan, also known as Bacha Khan, had set up an organization called Khudai Khidmatgar under his leadership a month before the incident.
Khudai Khidmatgar workers gathered at Qissa Khawani Bazaar in Peshawar waiting for their leader. Upon hearing of Bacha Khan’s arrest, a wave of protests swept across the province and his supporters began to gather.
As deputy commissioner of Peshawar, Metkaf ordered the protesters to disperse, but no one listened to them. In view of the growing crowd, Metcalfe called in armored vehicles, one of which crushed 14 people on its way. The mob then set the car on fire, with British personnel inside.
In that case, Sir Metcalfe ordered the firing. Soldiers of the British Army’s Royal Garhwal Rifles refused to carry a gun, but Metcalfe sent his other soldiers to teach the servants a lesson.
According to eyewitnesses to the incident, the British apparently thought that once the bullets fell, a few bodies would fall and the rest of the protesters would flee, but as the bodies fell in the front row, more people came from behind to replace them. ۔
Shots are said to be fired throughout the day. So much so that according to some references there were rivers of blood in the streets of storytelling and hundreds of corpses flowing in these rivers.
Olaf Kero, who was most sympathetic to the Pakhtuns and considered Peshawar as his home, was then the secretary to the chief commissioner. Caro later became the governor of the province, became a friend of Bacha Khan, and wrote a famous book, The Pathans.