New Delhi: The senior advisor of Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India made a claim that “Teesta Setalvad is great granddaughter of Chimanlal Harilal Setalvad who was member of the infamous ‘Hunter Commission’ on Jallianwala Bagh Massacre. Commission gave clean chit to General Dyer who ordered the firing on civilians. Chimanlal Harilal Setalvad, member of Hunter Commission which exonerated Gen Dyer of any crimes at Jallianwala Bagh.”
You can find the web archive of the post here.
Similar claim was made by:
We searched for “Disorders Inquiry Committee” on Google and came across the official report and the Evidence Volume III (the one shared by Mr. Kanchan Gupta via two images in his post).
On thoroughly reading the report, The Searchlight came to a conclusion that Sir C.H. Setalvad DID NOT give a clean chit or exonerate General Dyer for his actions on 13th April 1919, Jallianwala Bagh.
What is the Hunter Commission?
With the onset of the World War I, the appetite for independence was growing in the Indian subcontinent resulting in protests and disturbances in many areas mainly Delhi, Punjab, Bengal and Bombay. The British Government of India was thus rolling out draconian laws in order to avoid such disturbances. One such law was the Rowlatt Act of 1919, which gave British Government the power to arrest any individual without any trial.
On 13th April 1919, nearly a thousand Sikhs gathered in the Jallianwala Bagh on the occasion of Baisakhi to celebrate and also to peacefully protest against the Rowlatt Act 1919 and the arrest of pro-independence activists Satyapal and Saifuddin Kitchlew. The temporary Brigadier General Reginald Edward Harry Dyer surrounded the protesters with his troops, blocked the only exit of the Bagh and asked his troops to open continuous fire on the gathered crowd until their ammunition was exhausted. The official number of dead tallies up to 379 while the unofficial number stands at 1500; over 1200 people were injured.
After this horrible incident of the Jallianwala Bagh, Edwin Samuel Montagu, Secretary of State for India approved to appoint a committee on 14th October 1919 to investigate the “Dyer incident” among other disturbances in Bombay and Delhi.
What is written in the report?
The commission was chaired by the Lord William Hunter and was named “DISORDERS INQUIRY COMMITTEE” which later was famously known as the “HUNTER COMMISSION”. It consisted of 8 members (including Lord Hunter) and the report was divided into two- the Majority Report and the Minority Report.
The Majority Report was submitted and signed by the British members while the Minority Report was submitted and signed by the Indian members. The Majority report criticized Gen Dyer “adversely” and the Minority report criticized Gen Dyer “severely” wrote the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre and also disagreed with the Majority report on “it was probable that the crowd could not have been dispersed without firing”.
Both the reports condemned and held Gen Dyer responsible for the massacre with the minority members condemning him more gravely.
On the other hand there were some differences in both the reports wrt the Bagh incident in Punjab:
- -the majority report justified the Martial Law but the minority report condemned it and its implementation as offensive in general.
- -majority report believed that it was improbable to disperse the crowd without firing, but the minority members viewed that it could have been avoided.
There was no mention of “clean chit” in any of the report(s).
After submission of the entire report, the then British government provided fifteen thousand rupees to the dependents of those killed in Jallianwala Bagh and twelve thousand rupees to dependents of those killed in other Punjab villages.
General Dyer was found guilty of “mistaken notion of duty”, removed from his command in March 1920, was sent back to England and banned for being employed in British India.
There was no legal action taken against him.
On thoroughly reading the report, The Searchlight thus came to a conclusion that Sir Chimanlal Harilal Setalvad or the Hunter Commission DID NOT give a clean chit or exonerate General Dyer for his actions on 13th April 1919, Jallianwala Bagh, Punjab.
|Claimed By||Kanchan Gupta, Madhu Purnima Kishwar, Organizer Weekly|
|Claimed Reviewed By||The Searchlight|
|Claim Fact Check||False|