Jallianwala Bagh Massacre

Rowlatt Act 1919 and Jallianwala Bagh Massacre

Rowlatt Act – Imperial Legislative Council of British India passed the Rowlatt Act, 1919. This Act gave the power to arrest ordinary people without any trial.

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Imperial Legislative Council of British India passed the Rowlatt Act, 1919. This Act gave the power to arrest ordinary people without any trial.

Background:

The Indian had helped the British in the first world war. The Indian seemed that after the war is over, there will be a system of governance for deciding well being of the Indians. War affected Indians regarding increasing the prices, taxes, etc. and impacting India’s political situation.

To suppress this political terrorism in India, especially Bengal and Punjab, Lord Chelmsford appointed a committee under Sir Sydney Rowlatt. As stated by the committee, a new law passed by the Central Legislative Assembly on March 17, 1919. This law came to know as Rowlatt Act. This Act gave the power to the government to arrest anybody without any warrant or imprison without any trial. The Indians called this Act as Black Act.

Mahatma Gandhi decided to organise a nationwide satyagraha against the Rowlatt Act. On April 6, 1919, he appealed to Indians to follow Hartal (mass protest) all over India on a large scale.

Jallianwala Bagh Massacre:

The Lieutenant-Governor of Punjab at that time was Michael O’Dwyer. Against the Rowlatt Act, the movement aroused, which took over an extreme form in the Punjab region. Gandhiji prohibited from entering the province of Punjab. On April 9, two nationalist leaders, Dr Satypal and Saifuddin Kitchlew were arrested for their involvement in the Hartal case.

On April 13, 1919, on a Baisakhi day, the people gathered for a meeting held at Jallinwala Bagh in Amritsar for celebrating the festival. Many of them not aware of the ban put by the government on public gathering.

British troops commanded by Brig. General Reginald Edward Harry Dyer open fire on a large crowd of unarmed Indians in an open space known as the Jallianwala Bagh in Amritsar in the Punjab region on April 13, 1919.  Jallianwala Bagh was entirely enclosed by the walls and had only one exit. Dyer and his soldiers arrived and sealed off the exit point. They continued firing until the ammunition was over. In the entire Punjab, military law was enforced, and many people were sent to jail by the government.

As a protest against the massacre, Rabindranath Tagore rejected the knighthood that he had received in 1915. Later on, Indians demanded enquiry about this massacre. Hence British government appointed the Hunter Commission.

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