100 years of Rowlatt Satyagraha

100 years of Rowlatt Satyagraha

Why in discussion?

April 2019 marks the 100th anniversary of the 100 years of Rowlatt Satyagraha , which was started by Mahatma Gandhi in 1919. The Rowlatt Satyagraha was carried out in response to the British government implementing the Anarchic and Revolutionary Crime Act of 1919, known as the Rowlett Act.

100 years of Rowlatt Satyagraha
Rowlatt Act

Rowlatt Act

  • The Act was passed on the basis of the recommendations of the Sedition Committee headed by Sir Sydney Rowlett.
  • The act was passed in a hurry to the Imperial Legislative Council, despite united opposition by Indian members.
  • The act empowered the government to suppress political activities and allowed detention of political prisoners without trial for two years.

Impact of First World War on India Reaction to Gandhi’s call

  • Mahatma Gandhi wanted to launch a non-violent civil disobedience movement against such unjust laws, which started on 6 April 1919.
  • But before it was launched, large-scale anti-British government protests took place in the cities of Calcutta, Bombay, Delhi, Ahmedabad, etc.
  • Especially in Punjab, the situation became explosive due to the wrath of wartime repression, forced recruitment and sickness.
  • The closure of shops and schools due to the Bharat Bandh has disrupted life in the cities of North and West India.
  • Jallianwala Bagh massacre took place in Punjab during anti-British government demonstrations.

Jallianwala Bagh Massacre

  • On April 9, 1919, two nationalist leaders Saifuddin Kichlu and Dr. Satyapal were arrested by the British authorities without any reason, their fault was that they had addressed the meetings against the British government. He was taken to an unknown location.
  • Due to this, on April 10, thousands of Indian protesters expressed their displeasure by showing solidarity in favor of their leaders.
  • But this protest soon turned violent as some protesters were killed in police firing.
  • To prevent any future protests, the government enforced martial law and the responsibility of law and order in Punjab was handed over to Brigadier-General Dyer.
  • Unaware of the injunctive orders on Baisakhi on 13 April, a large crowd of people from the villages had gathered at Jallianwala Bagh in Amritsar.
  • Brigadier-General Dyer arrived at the scene with his troops and surrounded the gathering and blocked the only exit route and killed more than 1000 unarmed men, women and children.
  • 100 years of Rowlatt Satyagraha

Hunter commission

  • The government set up an inquiry committee to investigate the Jallianwala Bagh firing.
  • On October 14, 1919, the Government of India announced the formation of the Disorder Inquiry Committee.
  • This committee is known as the Hunter Commission, named after Lord William Hunter. It also had Indian members.
  • In a final report submitted in March 1920, the committee unanimously condemned Dyer’s acts.
  • However, the Hunter Committee did not take any punishment or disciplinary action against General Dyer.
  • 100 years of Rowlatt Satyagraha

Nationalist response

  • Rabindranath Tagore renounced his knighthood in protest against the incident.
  • Mahatma Gandhi also returned the title of Kaiser-i-Hind given to him by the British for the important work done during the Boer War.
  • Gandhiji was deeply saddened by this atmosphere of violence and the movement was withdrawn on 18 April 1919.
  • The Indian National Congress appointed its non-official committee comprising Motilal Nehru, C.R. Das, Abbas Tyab Ji, M.R. Jayakar, and Gandhi were included.
  • The congress put forth its point of view. This approach described Dyer’s act as inhumane and also said that there is no justification for the introduction of martial law in Punjab.
  • 100 years of Rowlatt Satyagraha

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Source: The Hindu

  • 100 years of Rowlatt Satyagraha

 

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