Anyone who saw Richard Attenborough's Oscar-winning 1982 biopic Gandhi is aware of the British massacre of Punjabis on April 13, 1919.
During the annual spring harvest festival known as Vaisakhi, acting brigadier-general Reginald Dyer ordered troops to fire on a vast crowd of nonviolent protesters in Jallianwala Bagh, which was a garden in the city of Amritsar.
It came after Dyer had banned all meetings earlier in the day, but this message wasn't adequately transmitted to the public.
The British reported that 379 were killed and another 1,200 were wounded, though estimates ran much higher in India.
It was one of the bloodiest instances of British repression during its colonial rule, a period when India was looted of its wealth and the vast majority lived in poverty. (For an accounting of how much Britain took from India, I recommend Surrey poet Phinder Dulai's dream/arteries.)
In recent days, the victims of Jallianwala Bagh mass shootings have been commemorated in the Lower Mainland on two different occasions.
On Thursday (April 13) at Holland Park, Mehak Punjab Dee TV and Radical Desi magazine held a vigil.
Speakers at the event, including Surrey–Green Timbers B.C. NDP candidate Rachna Singh, pointed out that the Jallianwala Bagh massacre is a reminder that the fight for equality doesn't only exist in India. It also must be pursued in Canada and the United States, where indigenous people and visible minorities encounter structural racism.
Two days later, the massacre was again remembered at the Vancouver Vaisakhi parade.
One of the floats provided historical details about what happened in the garden on that terrible April day in Amritsar 98 years ago.