The Jallianwala Bagh massacre occurred on April 13, 1919, in the city of Amritsar, Punjab region of India, during British colonial rule. In Jallianwala Bagh, a public garden, thousands of unarmed Indians peacefully assembled to protest the oppressive rules of 

the British government. Colonel Reginald Dyer, commanding British Indian Army soldiers, opened fire on them. An important turning point in India’s fight for independence from British control was the Jallianwala Bagh massacre. It outraged the Indian people and led to a widespread movement of nonviolent civil disobedience led by Mahatma Gandhi. Additionally, the episode led to a worldwide denunciation of British imperialism. 

A large gathering of peaceful protesters, including women, men, and children, had assembled at Jallianwala Bagh to voice their opposition against the oppressive Rowlatt Act and the arrest of Indian leaders Dr Saifuddin Kitchlew and Dr Satya Pal. British commander Brigadier General Reginald Edward Harry Dyer gave the order for his troops to fire without any prior notice or justification on the unarmed crowd. The military purposefully closed the Jallianwala Bagh’s small entrance, trapping its occupants and preventing them from fleeing. The firing continued for about ten minutes, and even when the panicked crowd tried to flee, they were met with bullets. 

Universe Public School is gearing up to celebrate the solemn occasion of the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre, a pivotal event in India’s struggle for independence. Respectfully and thoughtfully, the school will pay tribute to the people who perished in the terrible event that happened on April 13, 1919. Through various educational activities, including debates, seminars, and artistic presentations, students will delve into the historical significance of the Massacre, understanding its impact on shaping India’s journey towards freedom.

Timeline of Jallianwala Bagh Massacre 

  • 18 March 1919
      • The Rowlatt Act, also known as the Anarchical and Revolutionary Crimes Act of 1919, was approved by the British government on March 18, 1919. This Act permitted political prisoners to be detained without charge or trial for a maximum of two years, and it permitted the special court to try cases quickly and without the right to appeal. 
  • 6 April 1919
      • In response, Mahatma Gandhi initiated a non-violent Satyagraha against the Rowlatt Act on April 6, 1919. Nonetheless, as a result of wartime persecution, violent anti-British protests broke out in several of cities, especially in Punjab. 
  • 8 April 1919- 9 April 1919
      • Gandhiji was arrested on April 8, 1919, and two nationalist leaders, Dr. Satyapal, and Saifuddin Kitchlew, were arrested on April 1919, without any provocation. 
      • Indian demonstrators were incensed by this and turned out in large numbers to support their leaders. After the protests turned violent, the government imposed martial law and gave Brigadier-General Dyer command over Punjab’s law enforcement to quell any potential uprisings. 
  • 13 April 1919
      • On April 13, 1919, on Baisakhi day, a large crowd gathered in Jallianwala Bagh, unaware of the prohibitory orders in Amritsar. After arriving on the scene with his forces, Brigadier-General Dyer surrounded the group and blocked the only way out. 
      • Following his instruction, at than a thousand men, women, and children were killed as his soldiers opened fire on the defenseless crowd.
  • 18 April 1919
      • Rabindranath Tagore renounced his knighthood in protest.
      • Mahatma Gandhi handed up the title of Kaiser-i-Hind, awarded by the British for his work during the Boer War. 
      • Gandhi was overwhelmed by the atmosphere of complete violence and withdrew from the movement on April 18, 1919.
      • A non-official committee was formed by the Indian National Congress. The committee had members C.R. Das, Motilal Nehru, Abbas Tyabji, M.R. Jayakar, and Gandhi, to investigate the shootings.
      • Congress denounced the implementation of martial law in Punjab and denounced Dyer’s conduct as cruel.
  • 14 October 1919 
      • To look into the shootings at Jallianwala Bagh, the government established the Disorders Inquiry Committee, popularly known as the Hunter Commission, on October 14, 1919. 
      • The Indian members of the committee, led by Lord William Hunter, uniformly denounced Dyer’s actions in their final report, which was turned in in March 1920.
      • However, no penal or disciplinary action was taken against General Fyer. 
  • In March 1922, The Government Repealed the Rowlatt Act.
    • An important turning point in India’s fight for independence from British control was the Jallianwala Bagh massacre.

Root Cause of Jallianwala Bagh 

The tragic Jallianwala Bagh massacre had its origins in the socio-political climate of India during that era. The fundamental reasons for the massacre can be found in the emerging Indian nationalist movement, which aimed to achieve more political rights and self-governance, as well as in British colonial policies in the country. One of the main factors was the Rowlatt Act which was passed by the British Indian government in March 1919. The Act granted the government the authority to hold people without charge or trial for an extended length of time. This sparked large-scale rallies and riots all over India, especially in Amritsar, where the site of the Jallianwala Bagh took place.

Another factor that contributed to the massacre was the growing Indian nationalist movement which was seeking greater political rights and self-governance. Mahatma Gandhi was among the many Indian leaders and activists who condemned the Rowlatt Act and advocated for nonviolent demonstrations and acts of civil disobedience as a means of opposing it.

The British Colonial authorities, however, responded with violence and repression, which further inflamed tensions between the British and Indian communities. General Dyer responded to the increasing Indian nationalist movement and the protests against the Rowlatt Act with an extreme and savage decision, ordering his soldiers to open fire on a peaceful assembly of unarmed citizens in Jallianwala Bagh. In summary, a combination of British colonial policies, the growing Indian nationalist movement, and the colonial ruler’s violent response to nonviolent rallies and marches is the primary reason for the Jallianwala Bagh massacre.

What The Jallianwala Bagh Massacre Taught Us?

  • Importance of Upholding Human Rights: The massacre serves as a reminder of the importance of protecting basic human rights, such as the freedom of peaceful assembly and the right to life. It is a terrible example of what happens when people in positions of authority abuse these rights and repress opposition with violence.  
  • The Dangers of Colonialism and Imperialism: The idea that the British were better than the Indian people and their colonial tactics in India led directly to the Jallianwala Bagh massacre. It serves as a reminder of the perils of imperialism and colonialism as well as the significance of honoring the autonomy and sovereignty of other countries. 
  • The Power of Nonviolent Resistance: Many Indian leaders, including Mahatma Gandhi, advocated for non-violent resistance as a means of challenging British Colonial rule, and this approach ultimately proved successful in achieving India’s independence. 
  • The Importance of Historical Memory: The massacre that occurred at Jallianwala Bagh is still a potent representation of the fight for justice and human rights as well as Indian independence. It serves as a reminder of how critical it is to keep in mind the past and draw lessons from it to improve the present and future.

Political Leaders Who Condemned The Jallianwala Bagh Massacre 

The Jallianwala Bagh massacre was widely unaccepted both in India and internationally. At the time, a large number of political leaders criticized the massacre’s cruelty and demanded justice and accountability. Here are some of the notable political leaders:

  • Mahatma Gandhi: Gandhi Ji was one of the most prominent individuals in the Indian nationalist movement. His condemnation of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre was among the first. He is known for peaceful protests and civil disobedience in response to the violence. 
  • Rabindranath Tagore: Tagore was the first Indian to earn the Nobel Prize in Literature. He was a poet, writer, and philosopher originally from Bengal. He refused to accept his knighthood in retaliation for the tragedy at Jallianwala Bagh. He denounced the violence in a harsh letter addressed to Lord Chelmsford, the British Viceroy.
  • Jawaharlal Nehru: Nehru, a prominent member of the Indian nationalist movement and the country’s first prime minister, was a strong opponent of British colonialism. Moreover, denouncing the Jallianwala Bagh massacre as a “monstrous crime”  
  • Annie Besant: A British socialist and advocate for women’s rights who rose to prominence as a key figure in the Indian nationalism struggle. Besant demanded more political autonomy and self-rule for India and denounced the Jallianwala Bagh massacre.

What was the Jallianwala Bagh massacre?

On April 13, 1919, British troops opened fire on unarmed Indians in Amritsar, leading to the Jallianwala Bagh massacre, which left many people dead or injured.

Who ordered the killing at Jallianwala Bagh?

The order to open fire was given by General Dyer.

How many people were massacred in Jallianwala Bagh?

The tragedy resulted in the massacre of hundreds of people, including children.

Why did General Dyer open fire?

An assembly of the public in the enclosed park was prohibited, and this prompted the firing.

Who permitted to open fire in Jallianwala Bagh?

The action was carried out without specific permission from higher authorities, revealing the brutality of British Colonial rule in India.