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Rowlatt Satyagraha

Last Updated : 28 Feb, 2024
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The Rowlatt Satyagraha was formed against the Rowlatt Act. Rowlatt’s Satyagraha took place in 1919. The Rowlatt Act was one of the most challenging laws passed by the British government to restrict the civil freedoms of Indians at the beginning of the 20th century. 

Rowlatt Satyagraha

Rowlatt Satyagraha

Rowlatt Satyagraha

According to the Sedition Committee’s recommendations, which were led by Sir Sidney Rowlatt, this law was approved by him. It was imposed or introduced to investigate the ‘seditious conspiracy’ of the Indian people. This Rowlatt Act bill was the extension to the Defence of India Regulations Act of 1915 which was passed on March 1919. This bill was officially called as the Anarchical and Revolutionary Crimes Act.Despite the entire opposition of the Indian members, this legislation was quickly passed in the Imperial Legislative Council. It granted the government broad authority to prohibit political activity and authorized the two-year imprisonment of political prisoners without charge or trial. This act was called as “No Dalil, No Vakil,No Appeal Act”.

This Rowlatt Act is also known as Black law by the Indians.The act gave the government the power to imprison any person suspected of terrorist activities. This act gave the police huge powers for this it was opposed by the people. The Rowlatt Act inspired Gandhi and other nationalists to fight back against the British government. Gandhi founded the Rowlatt Satyagraha Sabha in February 1919, whose members committed to oppose the Act and risk judicial arrest and punishment. 

This satyagraha seeks to prevent the rising anger in India by removing the oppressive clauses of the Defense of India Act (1915), which was passed during a period of war. The nationalist movement, whether it was led by moderates or extremists, had limited its conflict to agitation. The only political activity the nationalists were aware of was mass gatherings and protests, refusal to work with the government, boycotts of foreign goods and higher education institutions, and occasional acts of terrorism. The movement was instantly raised to a new level by satyagraha. The events surrounding the Rowlatt Act laid the groundwork for future movements and it make the way of accomplishment of Indian Indepedence in 1947.


The British Government introduced the new bill on March 1919 named Rowlatt Act to replace the wartime restrictions on freedom of speech and assembly were re-imposed by this permanent law. Indians anticipated a significant step towards self-rule as a reward for their efforts in the war, but the Montford Reforms, with their incredibly limited view, and the oppressive Rowlatt Act arrived at the wrong time.

Indians naturally felt deceived, especially Gandhi who had led the charge in giving collaboration with the British war effort and even offered to stimulate the enrollment of Indians into the British Indian military. He termed the Rowlatt Act the “Black Act,” arguing that not everyone should be held accountable for minor political offenses.

Gandhi urged an all-Indian mass protest and he called a Satyagraha Sabha ,Gandhiji appealed to the people that they would refrain from going to work and cooperate and join this mass protest and solicited the assistance of younger members of Home Rule Leagues and Pan Islamists after witnessing the constitutional protest meet with savage repression. On April 6, 1919, the Satyagraha movement was set to begin, but it was delayed by extensive and violent anti-British protests in Calcutta, Bombay, Delhi, Ahmedabad, and other cities. Due to persecution throughout the war, forced recruitment, and the destruction of illness, the situation in Punjab in particular grew so unstable that the Army was summoned, two congress leaders Dr.Satya Pal and Dr. Salluddin Kitchlew were arrested. In April 1919, there was a wave of anti-British hostility that was both the greatest and most violent since 1857 , On 13th April 1919 the infamous Jallian wala Bagh Massacre took place in Amritsar during the period of widespread unrest and protests against the Rowlatt Act .In this thousands of unarmed civilian were killed by General Reginald Dyer including womens and Childrens.His actions were widely criticized both in India and in Britain. On March 1922 this Rowlatt act and 22 others acts were revoked by the Government.

Features of Rowlatt Satyagraha

Gandhiji issued a Satyagraha movement in 1919 in opposition to the British-enacted Rowlatt Act.

  1. The Act enhanced police powers while limiting freedom of expression.
  2. Despite the unified opposition of the Indian Representatives, the British administration approved the Rowlatt Act, which gives the government the authority to detain someone for two years without a trial.
  3. Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Mahatma Gandhi, and others strongly opposed this Act.
  4. On 6 April 1919, the day on which Indian members opposed the Act was observed. It was a peaceful protest.
  5. To protest against the Rowlatt Act, Satyagraha Sabhas were established throughout India. It was the first time that the entire country of India had protested against the British.
  6. The Rowlatt Satyagraha was put down by the British using violent measures. On April 13th, the British started shooting at a crowd of nonviolent protesters gathering at Jallianwala Bagh to oppose the Rowlatt satyagraha.  
  7. The Jallianwala Bagh tragedy shocked the whole country. The incident was criticized by all national leaders.
  8. To fight British control, participants in the Rowlatt Satyagraha worked to bring Hindus and Muslims together.

Drawbacks of Rowlatt satyagraha

  1. The Rowlatt Satyagraha was established by Gandhi on April 6, 1919. Rowlatt Satyagraha was established to oppose the Rowlatt Act but in a non-violent manner. The main aim of Rowlatt’s Satyagraha was to deal with the British government non-violently. Rowlatt satyagraha is just to oppose the Rowlatt Act and the British government without any kind of violence by Gandhi and other members. 
  2. Gandhi intended the civil disobedience movement to be non-violent. He thus decided to put an end to the Rowlatt Satyagraha movement since it was causing a lot of bloodshed.
  3. This rowdy act was for both rural and urban people. That is why both urban and rural residents were having effects by the Rowlatt Act. However, the Rowlatt Satyagraha was only valid for people living in cities. People in rural areas are still suffering from the torture that was conducted by the British government. 
  4. The British government continued to imprison people in rural areas without charges or trials. Even though the Rowlatt Satyagraha had been a well-recognized movement, it was still mostly confined to urban areas, not rural areas.

FAQs on Rowlatt Satyagraha

Q 1. What is Rowlatt satyagraha?


Rowlatt Act was passed on March 1919, which gave the authority and power to arrest any person without trial. To abolish this Act, Gandhiji and other leaders called for the Satyagraha or hartal to show objection by the Indians to this rule, which came to be known as Rowlatt Satyagraha.

Q 2. Why was Rowlatt Satyagraha organized?


The Rowlatt Satyagraha was organized to oppose the Rowlatt Act, organized by Gandhiji and other important leaders countrywide.

Q 3. Describe the major features of Rowlatt Satyagraha.


The Rowlatt Act gave the power to imprison any person who was suspected of any form of terrorism activities for a maximum of two years of imprisonment without trial. It also provided for indefinite detention and also arrest without a warrant.

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