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Jallianwala Bagh Massacre

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The Jallianwala Bagh massacre of April 13, 1919, was a turning point in modern Indian history, where British troops fired on a crowd of unarmed Indians in Amritsar, killing hundreds and wounding thousands. This incident permanently scar Indo-British relations and was a prelude to Mahatma Gandhi’s full commitment to Indian nationalism and independence from the British. The British government’s enactment of repressive powers during World War I intended to combat disruptive activities had left Indians expecting political autonomy, which the Montagu-Chelmsford Report recommended in 1918. Instead, the Rowlatt Act was passed in early 1919, leading to nationwide unrest and violent protests, and Reginald Edward Harry Dyer was given the task of restoring peace.

Jallianwala Bagh Massacre

Jallianwala Bagh Massacre

Jallianwala Bagh Massacre Incident

On the afternoon of April 13, a crowd of around 10,000 men, women, and children gathered in Jallianwala Bagh, which was enclosed by walls and had only one exit. It is uncertain how many people present there were protesting against the public gathering and how many celebrated Baisakhi, a spring festival. The single access to the park was guarded by a regiment of soldiers when General Dyer, a British military commander, proclaimed the assembly unlawful and abruptly ordered his troops to open fire. Ten minutes of continuous fire happened until all the ammunition was used. According to one official record, an estimated 379 people were killed and around 1,200 more were wounded. After the cease-fire, the troops immediately left the place, with people bleeding and dying.

The firing was followed by the proclamation of martial law in Punjab which included public floggings and other types of humiliation. The sentiments and outrage of the Indians grew, as the news spread of the shooting and subsequent actions of the British. Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore renounced the knighthood that he received in 1915 and Gandhiji organized a large-scale and sustained non-violent protest and noncooperation movement.

The government set up the Hunter Commission to look into the matter. The assault was judged “unutterably horrible” by Secretary of State for War Winston Churchill, and in the House of Commons debate on July 8, 1920, lawmakers voted 247 to 37 against Dyer. However, the unsuccessful inquiry and the early accolades for Dyer fueled a significant deal of general resentment toward the British among the Indian public, giving rise to the non-cooperation movement of 1920–1922. Some historians saw the incident as a turning point in the British Empire’s dominance of India. While expressing “deep remorse” in 2019, Britain has never officially apologized for the killings. The general populace of India had a searing loss of trust in the United Kingdom’s objectives as a result of the amount of casual cruelty and absence of any accountability that shocked the whole nation.

Causes of the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre

The Jallianwala Bagh massacre occurred on April 13, 1919, in Amritsar, Punjab, India. The British government introduced the Rowlatt Act, which granted them the power to detain anyone accused of terrorist activities without a trial, to conduct location searches without a warrant, and restricted press freedom. Indians were outraged by this act, and the public and Indian politicians condemned it. Mahatma Gandhi led a protest called the Rowlatt Satyagraha, but it was marred by violence in various regions, especially in Punjab. The British government imposed martial law in Punjab, and on April 13, 1919, General Dyer arrived with his men and opened fire at a peaceful gathering in Jallianwala Bagh, killing many unarmed men, women, and children. This incident turned moderate Indians into nationalists, and many people went to the streets in various north Indian cities, burning down government buildings and striking against the police. In retaliation, the authorities terrorized and humiliated the people. Satyagrahis were forced to bow before senior officials by touching their noses to the ground.

The aftermath of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre saw the rise of Indian nationalism and the abandonment of loyalty to the British by moderate Indians. The massacre also led to the assassination of Michael O’Dwyer, the Lieutenant-Governor of Punjab, by Indian activist Udham Singh in 1940. The British government’s actions, including the imposition of martial law, further inflamed public anger and resentment. The Jallianwala Bagh massacre remains a significant event in India’s struggle for independence and a reminder of the consequences of colonial oppression.

Effects of the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre

The Jallianwala Bagh massacre was a tragic event in India in 1919. It was a result of a law passed by the British government that allowed them to arrest people without a trial. This caused widespread opposition, and protests broke out across the country. The British responded with violence, and the massacre at Jallianwala Bagh was a turning point in India’s fight for independence.

The incident had a significant impact on Indian politics and society. It led to a surge of nationalism and anti-British sentiment, and the Indian National Congress, under the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi, adopted a policy of non-cooperation with the British. This included boycotting British goods and institutions. The incident also drew condemnation from around the world and became a symbol of British oppression and brutality.

In short, the Jallianwala Bagh massacre was a tragic event that changed the course of Indian history. It fueled the country’s struggle for independence and remains a powerful reminder of the consequences of oppressive government policies.

Events Leading Up to the Massacre

Before the Jallianwala Bagh massacre, there were many protests and unrest in response to the Rowlatt Act passed by the British government in 1919. This act gave the British government the power to arrest and detain Indian citizens without trial, which led to a lot of opposition from the Indian people. To stop the protests, the British government declared martial law in Punjab and other places, causing even more violence and unrest. The people of India were very unhappy with British rule and protested in many different cities.

In Amritsar, where the massacre took place, thousands of people were celebrating the Sikh festival of Baisakhi. The British authorities saw this as a potential threat to public order and issued a proclamation banning all public meetings. The British troops led by General Reginald Dyer fired without warning on the unarmed crowd, killing and injuring hundreds of people.

The Jallianwala Bagh massacre was an important event in India’s struggle for independence from British rule. It is still remembered today as a symbol of British oppression and brutality.

Aftermath of Jallianwala Bagh Massacre

Many moderates of the country turned to be nationalists following the incident, abandoning their loyalty to the British. Major General William Beynon came to respond to Colonel Dyer’s Report to his superiors that he was “confronted by a revolutionary army” by saying that ” Your action was proper and Lieutenant Governor agrees”. Viceroy Lord Chemford had agreed to O’ Dwyer for the imposition of martial law in Amritsar and other locations.

Government buildings were burned down and many strikes and chases against the police followed. In retaliation, authorities have terrorized and also humiliated the people. Villages around Gujranwala in Punjab came to be blasted and the satyagrahis were forced to bow to senior officials by touching their noses to the ground.

Related Links

  1. Non- Cooperation Movement
  2. Khilafat and Non Cooperation Movement
  3. Constructive Programmes of Mahatma Gandhi
  4. Dandi March

FAQs on Jallianwala Bagh Massacre

Q 1. When did the Jallianwala Bagh massacre take place?


The Jallianwala Bagh massacre is dated as 13 April 1919, as records kept by the British government show that the indiscriminate fire ordered by Colonel Reginald Dyer resulted in the deaths of 379 persons, including men, women, and children, and 1,200 injuries.

Q 2. Where Jallianwala Bagh Massacre took place in?


The Jallianwala Bagh Massacre took place in Amritsar, Punjab. This is when the British troops fired on a large crowd of unarmed Indians in an open space known as Jallianwala Bagh in Amritsar, in the state of Punjab. Killing a hundred people and wounding more thousand people in the incident. 

Q 3. Who ordered Jallianwala Bagh Massacre?


The Jallianwala Bagh massacre was ordered by General Reginald Dyer, who was in charge of the British troops in Amritsar, India at the time. Without warning, Dyer and his troops opened fire on an unarmed crowd of protesters, resulting in the deaths of hundreds of people.

Q 4. Who killed people in Jallianwala Bagh Massacre?


People in the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre were killed by Reginald Dyer.

Q 5. How many members died in Jallianwala Bagh Massacre?


As per the estimates of british government, about 379 people died and about 1200 people were wounded and injured.

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Last Updated : 26 May, 2023
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