Michael Francis O’Dwyer was an Irish Indian Civil Service (ICS) officer and later the Lieutenant Governor of Punjab, British India between 1913 and 1919.
It was during O’Dwyer’s tenure as Punjab’s Lieutenant Governor that the Jallianwala Bagh massacre occurred in Amritsar, on 13 April 1919.
He passed the open entrance examination for the Indian Civil Service in 1882. After completing two years of probation at Balliol College, Oxford, he passed the final examination in 1884 in fourth place overall.
He was selected by Lord Curzon for a significant role in the organisation of the new North-West Frontier Province and its separation from Punjab.
In December 1912, during Lord Hardinge’s tenure as Viceroy, he was appointed Lieutenant Governor of Punjab.
O’Dwyer worked closely with the military authorities and sought the aid of local rural Punjabi leaders to organise a centralised system for the recruitment of soldiers for the First World War effort, in exchange for compensation, including major land grants and formal titles.
He opposed the Montagu–Chelmsford Reforms, fearing that his efforts in recruitment through the rural leaders would be destroyed by increasing powers to “urban elites”.
On 21 April 1919, in Dyer’s defence, O’Dwyer stated to Viceroy Chelmsford “the Amritsar business cleared the air, and if there was to be holocaust anywhere, and one regrets that there should be, it was best at Amritsar”.
O’Dwyer endorsed Reginald Dyer’s action at Jallianwala Bagh, making it clear that he felt Dyer’s orders to shoot at the crowds was correct.
In 1925, he published a book, India as I knew it, in which he wrote that his time as administrator in Punjab was preoccupied by the threat of terrorism and spread of political agitation.
At age of 75, he was shot dead at a joint meeting of the East India Association and the Central Asian Society in Caxton Hall in Westminster, London, on 13 March 1940, by an Indian activist Udham Singh, in retaliation for the massacre in Amritsar. O’Dwyer was hit by two bullets and died instantly.
Note for aspirants :
Guys dont get confused between General Dyer and Michael O’Dwyer and O’Dwyer’s relevance with Udam Singh. Udham Singh killed O’Dwyer (not general Dyer) in London in 1940. Will post about Udham Singh next so that it will be easy for you to mindmap events. (Again it’s 1919 timeline but keep in mind that Udham Singh killed him in 1940).