18th-century Indian fort linked to 1922 colonial massacre now open to public

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AMRITSAR, INDIA, Dec 20 (IANS) The 18th century Gobindgarh Fort here, once home toGeneral Reginald Dyer who was responsible for the massacre of 2,000 Indians in Jalianwala Bagh, was Wednesday thrown open to the public by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

The prime minister handed over the symbolic key of the fort, which was under the Indian Army since October 1948, to the state government, opening up the sprawling 50-acre complex to the public.

The fort was first built in 1760 and called Bhangian da Kila. It was later re-built by Punjab's warrior king Maharaja Ranjit Singh, who converted it into his residence and christened the fort after the last Sikh guru Gobind Singh.

It is believed that the monument once had a tunnel connecting it to Lahore in Pakistan, the erstwhile capital of Ranjit Singh. But army authorities here deny its existence.

The historical complex could accommodate a 12,000-strong army, has 25 cannons and was adequately fortified for repulsing any attack at that time.

During British rule, General Dyer converted the fort into his sprawling residence and constructed a 'Phansi ghar' (gallows) right in front of it.

It is said that Dyer derived sadistic pleasure watching the execution of Indian freedom fighters while sitting in his house.

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