The Anarchical and Revolutionary Crimes Act, 1919 popularly known as the Rowlatt Act was a legislative act passed by the Imperial Legislative Council in Delhi on March 21, 1919, indefinitely extending “emergency measures” (of the Defence of India Regulations Act) enacted during the First World War in order to control public unrest and root out conspiracy in India. Passed on the recommendations of the Rowlatt Committee and named after its president, British judge Sir Sidney Rowlatt, this act effectively authorized the government to imprison any person suspected of terrorism living in the Raj for up to two years without a trial, and gave the imperial authorities power to deal with all revolutionary activities. The unpopular legislation provided for stricter control of the press, arrests without warrant, indefinite detention without trial, and juryless in camera trials for proscribed political acts. The accused were denied the right to know the accusers and the evidence used in the trial. Those convicted were required to deposit securities upon release, and were prohibited from taking part in any political, educational, or religious activities.
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, among other Indian leaders, was extremely critical of the Act and argued that not everyone should get punishment in response to isolated political crimes. The Act annoyed many Indian leaders and the public, which caused the government to implement repressive measures. Gandhi and others found that constitutional opposition to the measure was fruitless, so on April 6, a “hartal” was organised where Indians would suspend all business and fast as a sign of their opposition. This event is known as the Rowlatt Satyagraha. Gandhiji named the Rowlatt Act as “black act”.
However, the success of the hartal in Delhi, on March 30, was overshadowed by tensions running high, which resulted in rioting in the Punjab and other provinces. Deciding that Indians were not ready to make a stand consistent with the principle of nonviolence, an integral part of satyagraha, Gandhi suspended the resistance.
The Rowlatt Act came into effect in March 1919. In the Punjab the protest movement was very strong, and on April 10 two leaders of the congress, Dr. Satya Pal and Dr. Saifuddin Kitchlew, were arrested and taken to an unknown place.
The army was called into Punjab, and on April 13 people from neighbouring villages gathered for Baisakhi Day celebrations in Amritsar, which led to the infamous Jallianwala Bagh massacre of 1919.
- Vohra, Ranbir (2001). The Making of India: A Historical Survey, 2nd Ed. Armonk, New York: M.E. Sharpe. ISBN 0-7656-0711-5. p. 126.
- “From the Land of Paradise to the Holy City”. The Tribune. January 26, 2006.
- “Op-ed: Let’s not forget Jallianwala Bagh”. Daily Times. April 13, 2003.
- The history of British India: a chronology, John F. Riddick, 2006
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Satyagrah against Rowlatt Act (1919)
On 24 May 1919, Satyagrah sabha was constituted in Bombay by Gandhi and was himself its chairman. 6 April 1919 was fixed as the day for starting Rowlatt Satygrah and this day was observed as ‘National Insult Day’.
Swami Shraddhanand was leading the movement against Rowlatt act in Delhi. The movement opposing Rowlatt act was very popular in Punjab. Gandhi tried to visit Punjab to check the violent people but the government did not allowed him to enter Punjab and sent him back to Bombay. In such a situation, the anger of the people further increased when Lt. Governor , Michael O Dyer arrested the two very popular leaders, Dr. Satpal and Saifuddin Kichlu, without any reason on 9 April 1919.
10 Aprl 1919, administration called military and handed over the administration of Punjab to General Dyer.
11 April 1919, Marshall law was declared in Amritsar under the command of General Dyer and he banned public meeting.
13 April 1919, on the day of Baisakhi, a public meeting was organised in Jalianwala Bagh to oppose the arrest of Dr. Satpal and Saifuddin Kichlu. General Dyer declared it unconstitutional and opened fire on public. According to government report, 379 people were killed.
C. F. Andrews termed this incident as ‘Deliberate Merciless Killing’. Sankaran, Indian member of viceroys, executively resigned. Rabindra Nath Tagore returned the title of ‘Sir’ after this incident .
15 April 1919, Marhall law was imposed over the whole of Punjab.
19 April 1919, Gandhi called off Rowlatt Satyagrah.
The government constituted Hunter committee to inquire about this incident. The Hunter committee was constituted on 1 October 1919 under the chairmanship of Lord Hunter. There were 8 members in this committee including 3 Indians (Sir Chimmanlal SItalwad, Sahebjada Sultan Ahmed and Jagat Narayan). The Congress also constituted a committee under Madan Mohan Malviya. Motilal Nehru and Gandhi were other members. Hunter committe submitted its report in March 1920.
On the basis of its report the Rowlatt Act was passed in March 1919 by the Central Legislative Council. As per this Act, any person could be arrested on the basis …
२३ जून, २०१२ – Freedom movement – Satyagrah against Rowlatt Act (1919) … The British government constituted Rowlatt Act under the chairmanship of …