Jallianwala Bagh Massacre

Why is it in News?

This year (2019) marks the 100th year of the Jallianwala Bagh tragedy.

How is it Relevant for Prelims 2019?

In UPSC 2018, a question on ‘Champaran Satyagraha’ was asked as Champaran Satyagraha completed 100 years in 2017. Likewise, this segment becomes important for Prelims 2019.

Historical Background of the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre:

  • Since the beginning of the World War I, there had been an increasing resentment and civil unrest throughout the country especially in the states of West Bengal and Punjab.
  • It was due to the terrible repercussions of the war, like- inflation, and heavy taxation, a huge number of dead and wounded soldiers that contributed immensely in uniting the nation against the British Rule.

The Rowlatt Act:

  • The worsening civil unrest led to the formation of Rowlatt Committee in 1919. The Rowlatt Act (Anarchial & Revolutionary Crimes Act 1919) was a legislative act that allowed certain political cases to be tried without the presence of a jury and permitted internment of suspects without any trial (it was referred in Hindi by our nationalists to as ‘No Vakil, No Appeal & No Dalil’).
  • This is the time when Mahatma Gandhi came to light as a revolutionary and organised ‘Rowlatt Satyagraha’.

Trigger Points of the Event and Massacre:

  • The crowd was peacefully protesting the arrest of two national leaders Saifuddin Kitchlew and Satya Pal; seeing this Dyer banned all the public meetings and imposed curfew, but this message was not widely circulated and people gathered in huge numbers at the Jallianwala Bagh.
  • Dyer went there with the troops and ordered firing on the unarmed masses leading to death of thousands of people (around 1000 people died and 1500 people were injured).

Repercussion of the Massacre:

  • Rabindranath Tagore renounced his ‘Knighthood’ in protest to this barbaric incident.
  • Mahatma Gandhi renounced his ‘Kaiser-i-Hind’.
  • On April 18, 1919, Gandhi withdrew the movement and termed it as the ‘Himalayan Blunder’.

Killing of Michael O’Dwyer:

  • Udham Singh was acting as a volunteer (supplying water to the crowd) in the Jallianwala Bagh protests, he witnessed the killing of thousands of people and this led to a deep sense of revenge and he killed Michael O’Dwyer (Lieutinent Governor ofPunjab, who approved of Reginald Dyer’s action) on 13th March 1940, at Caxton Hall London.

Hunter Commission:

  • On 14th October 1919, Hunter Commission was made to look into the killing of innocent people. This commission found Dyer guilty and reported that Dyer overstepped the bounds of his authority.
  • But the tragic situation was that it did not impose any penal or disciplinary action against Dyer, which finally culminated in Non-cooperation Movement (one of the cause was Punjab injustice)

Source: TH, Livemint