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Jallianwala Bagh Massacre

Context:

Recently, the Prime Minister paid tributes to people killed in the Jallianwala Bagh massacre in 1919.

  • He asserted that their unparalleled courage and sacrifice will keep motivating the coming generations. 13th April, 2022 marks the 103 years of the incident.

Relevance:

GS I- History

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre: 
  2. Outcome
  3. Rowlatt Act, 1919

About the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre: 

  • The Jallianwala Bagh massacre, also known as the Amritsar massacre, took place on 13 April 1919. 
  • It was Baisakhi that day, a harvest festival popular in Punjab and parts of north India. Local residents in Amritsar decided to hold a meeting that day to discuss and protest against the confinement of Satya Pal and Saifuddin Kitchlew, two leaders fighting for Independence, and implementation of the Rowlatt Act, which armed the British government with powers to detain any person without trial.
  • The crowd had a mix of men, women and children. 
  • They all gathered in a park called the Jallianwala Bagh, walled on all sides but for a few small gates, against the orders of the British. 
  • While the meeting was on, Brigadier-General Reginald Edward Harry Dyer, who had crept up to the scene wanting to teach the public assembled a lesson, ordered 90 soldiers he had brought with him to the venue to open fire on the crowd.
  • The troops kept on firing until their ammunition was exhausted. 
  • At least 1000 people were killed and over 1,200 other people were injured of whom 192 were seriously injured. 

Outcomes:

  • Considered the ‘The Butcher of Amritsar’ in the aftermath of the massacre, General Dyer was removed from command and exiled to Britain.
  • Rabindranath Tagore and Mahatma Gandhi, as a sign of condemnation, renounced their British Knighthood and Kaiser-i-Hind medal respectively.
  • In 1922, the infamous Rowlett Act was repealed by the British.

Rowlatt Act, 1919

  • The act was officially known as the Anarchical and Revolutionary Crimes Act, 1919 and was passed in March 1919 by the Imperial Legislative Council.
  • The act was passed as per recommendations of the Rowlatt Committee chaired by a judge, Sir Sidney Rowlatt.
  • This act authorized the government to imprison for a maximum period of two years, without trial, any person suspected of terrorism.
  • The act provided s speedy trial of the offenses by a special cell that consisted of 3 High Court Judges. There was no court of appeal above that panel.
  • This panel could also accept the evidences which were not even acceptable in the Indian Evidences Act.
  • It also placed severe restrictions on the freedom of the press.
  • The act was widely condemned by Indian leaders and the public. The bills came to be known as ‘black bills’.
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