On April 13, 1919, the Jallianwala Bagh massacre, also known as the Amritsar massacre, occurred. The arrest of pro-Indian independence leaders Dr. Saifuddin Kitchlew and Dr. Satya Pal drew a huge but peaceful crowd to the Jallianwala Bagh in Amritsar, Punjab.
Why Had The Crowd Gathered in Jallianwala Bagh?
The British government of India implemented a succession of restrictive emergency powers during World War I (1914–18). These were created to suppress subversive activities and prevent the rise of anti-British sentiments. Following the war, Indians hoped that those restrictions would be relaxed and that India would be granted greater political autonomy. The Rowlatt Act, on the other hand, granted them.
The Rowlatt Act, officially known as the Anarchical and Revolutionary Crimes Act, of 1919, was passed in 1919 by the Imperial Legislative Council.
This act extended extreme wartime measures.
- It had authorized the British government to arrest anybody suspected of terrorist activities.
- It also authorized the government to detain such people arrested for up to 2 years without trial.
- It empowered the police to search for a place without a warrant.
- It placed severe restrictions on the freedom of the press
- To this, the situation in Punjab was very volatile, and many protests were taking place. To control it, Punjab was put under martial law, which meant that it became unlawful for more than four people to assemble at a place.
Event on The Day of Jallianwala Bagh
- A mob of at least 10,000 men, women, and children gathered in the Jallianwala Bagh on a fateful day. There was only one exit and the area was entirely surrounded on all sides.
- The civilians had gathered for a peaceful protest to denounce the arrest and deportation of two national leaders, Satya Pal and Saifuddin Kitchlew, for protesting the Rowlatt Acts.
- Pilgrims who had come to celebrate Baisakhi, the traditional harvest festival, were among the gathering.
- General Reginald Dyer arrived with his forces and ordered the unarmed citizens to be shot. The gunmen only stopped reloading when the indiscriminate firing began.
- It killed around 1000 people and injured a large number of others.
- The British administration had reached the pinnacle of its imperial hubris at this point. All nationalists, as well as some British, were outraged.
The aftermath of The Jallianwala Massacre
The Hunter Commission: The Commission, also known as the Disorders Inquiry Committee, found General Dyer guilty but did not penalise him or take any disciplinary action against him. In 1920, he was discharged from the army.
Rabindranath Tagore gave up his knighthood title in a protest.
Gandhi had given up his title of ‘Kaiser-e-hind’ bestowed on him by the British for his activities in the Boer War in South Africa.
This heinous crime will be remembered for the 101st time in 2020. Even in the United Kingdom, the massacre continues to elicit outrage. The slaughter was described as a “shameful scar” on British Indian history by British Prime Minister Theresa May, who did not apologise. The incident was also dubbed a “distressing example” of Britain’s history with India by Queen Elizabeth.
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