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Satyagraha Against Rowlatt Act

Satyagraha Against Rowlatt Act

  • Post World War—I, as Indians were expecting certain constitutional concessions, the Government came out with repressive Rowlatt Act which the nationalists took as an insult.
  • Gandhi called for a nationwide protest in Feb 1919.
  • But soon, having see the constitutional protest fail, Gandhi organized a Satyagraha Sabha and roped in younger members of Home Rule League & Pan Islamists.
  • The forms of protest included observance of a nationwide hartal (strike) accompanied by fasting and prayer, and Civil Disobedience against specific laws, and courting arrest and imprisonment.

There was a radical change in the situation:

  • The masses found a direction. Now, instead of giving a verbal expression to their grievances, they could “act”
  • From now onwards, the peasants, artisans, urban workers were to play major role in the struggle
  • Orientation of the national movement turned to the masses permanently. Gandhi said “The salvation would come when masses were awakened and became active in politics”.

Satyagraha was to be launched on April 6, 1919 but even before that there were large scale violent protests anti-British demonstrations in Calcutta, Bombay, Delhi, Ahmedabad, etc. Esp in Punjab situation became very explosive due to wartime repression, forcible recruitments and ravages of disease and the army had to be called un, April 1919 saw the biggest and the most violent anti-British upsurge since 1857.                                                                              Satyagraha Against Rowlatt Act


  • On Baisakhi day, April 13, 1919 saw one of the most dreadful days of violence in the Modern Indian History.
  • A large crowd of people mostly from neighboring villages had gathered in a small park in Amritsar and were unaware of the prohibitory orders in the city.
  • These people had gathered to show protest against the arrest of their leaders: Saifuddin Kitchlew and Satyapal.
  • The army surrounded the gathering under the orders of General Dyer and blocked the only exit point and opened fire on the unarmed crowd killing around 1000.
  • This followed the uncivilized brutality of the population of Amritsar. The entire nation was stunned.
  • Rabindranath Tagore renounced his Knighthood in protest. Gandhi was overwhelmed by the total atmosphere of violence and withdrew the movement of Satyagraha on April 18th 1919.


Modern History

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