Jallianwala Bagh in 1919 . Photograph: Zeutschel Omniscan 11/Nehru Memorial Museum
On 13 April 1919, British troops fired on a large crowd of unarmed Indians in an open space known as the Jallianwala Bagh in Amritsar in the Punjab region of India, killing several hundred people. Detailed reports of the shootings didn’t appear until Brigadier Reginald Dyer began giving evidence to the Hunter Commission, the inquiry established to investigate the incident, in November 1919.
Amritsar, 100 years on, remains an atrocity Britain cannot be allowed to forget | Mihir Bose
Disturbances continued in India up to last Saturday. Reports issued by the Secretary of State show that the telegraph line between Amritsar and Lahore, in the Punjab, has been cut, and “it is reported,” say the official announcements, that in the intervening area a state of “open rebellion” exists.
At Calcutta, on account of the violence of the mob, the military were called out, and a picket, which was attacked with stones, fired on the crowd. Six people were killed and 12 wounded.
Gandhi has been arrested, released, and finally ordered to remain within the Bombay Presidency. A Reuter’s telegram from Simla announces that a statement “made in official quarters” denies that the Rowlatt Bills question is the sole cause of the unrest.
Causes of the unrest
Simla, April 14
With reference to the resolution taken by the government with regard to the agitation against the Rowlatt Bills, a statement of the position is made in official quarters which denies that the passing of the Rowlatt Bills in the face of popular opposition is the sole cause of the unrest at present prevailing in many localities, and says that the true explanation of the trouble is more probably found in the spirit of unrest due to reaction after the stress of war and the hardships it has entailed and is still entailing.
This spirit, the statement continues, is not confined to India, as recent events have shown in Egypt, in the Continent, and even to some extent in England. Racial animosity, Mohammedan feeling about the downfall of Turkey, the prevailing high prices everywhere, and the vague political ideas about self-determination may all be considered as contributory causes, and the Rowlatt Bills have been used as handle mainly by the irreconcilables, whose almost openly avowed creed has always been dislike of the British Raj.
Apologising for Amritsar is pointless. Better redress is to never forget | William Dalrymple
The movement purports to be “one of passive resistance only, avoiding all violence and soul force is to triumph over the brute force that crams such legislation down the throats of an unwilling people.” The very first manifestation of the movement at Delhi began by the forcible closing of the shops of people, who knew nothing and cared less about the bills, and ended by a violent resistance to authority which is in direct opposition to the vow taken by Mr Gandhi and his supporters.