Jallianwala Bagh Tragedy
Punjab was facing from the severe war time depression as the sipahis were returning from Central Asia and Mesopotamia. Then the Ghadar party made Punjab a cradle of revolutionary movements. The situation in Amritsar and Lahore was worse and army was called there. The Amritsar was handed to Brigadier-General Reginald Dyer. On April 13, 1919 in Amritsar, more than 5,000 people gathered at Jallianwala Bagh.
The foolish General believed that these Indians are conspiring for a coordinated revolt in the next hot months when the British troops will be withdrawn from the plains and would be deployed in the hills. So, such a conspiracy must not be accepted.
It was a Baisakhi day and the people were peaceful, unarmed, most of the crowd was villagers and were not aware that the sarkar has banned the meetings.
The luckless mob was fired from all sides by the troops of General Dyer and massacred more than 400 people at the place. This stunned the entire country. Punjab was placed under martial law. On April 18, 1919, Gandhi withdrew the movement and called it a “Himalayan blunder“. On May 30, 1919 Rabindranath Tagore renounced his knighthood. Gandhi returned the Kaiser-i-Hind Gold medal given to him for his work during Boer war. A parallel nonofficial enquiry committee was set up by the congress and Government also set up a committee of enquiry with 4 British and 3 Indian members. The Indemnity act was also passed. Dyer was removed from the job and sent to London, but he was never charged of any offence.
Impact of Jallianwala Bagh Tragedy
The massacre was worth calling genocide and it stunned the entire country. Whole of Punjab was placed under martial law and within a week on April 18. 1919, Gandhi withdrew the movement and called it a “Himalayan blunder”. On May 30, 1919 Rabindranath Tagore renounced his knighthood. Gandhi returned the Kaiser-i-Hind Gold medal given to him for his work during Boer war. A parallel nonofficial enquiry committee was set up by the congress and Government also set up a committee of enquiry with 4 British and 3 Indian members. The Indemnity act was also passed. Dyer was removed from the job and sent to London, but he was never charged of any offence.
Brigadier General Reginald Dyer could not see any difference between the peaceful meeting of the Jallianwala Bagh and the Warfield of France. After placing Punjab in Martial law and imposing curfew, he placed one more foolish and humiliating order. In the turmoil one Miss Marcella Sherwood was assaulted and the General passed an order that those who are passing through the street where she was living would have crawl, laying flat on their bellies. Gandhi declared that the British have lost the moral right to rule this country.
Hunter Committee Report
The Jallianwala Bagh massacre was followed by establishment of a non-official enquiry committee was Congress. The British Government did not initiate such inquiry till Congress had set up such committee.
Later, the Government established a committee headed by I.ord Hunter a Senator of the “College of justice of Scotland”. This committee had 7 members viz. 4 British and 3 Indians.
Fact Box: Disorders Inquiry Committee: Members
The 7 member Hunter Committee which was set up to investigate the Jallianwala Bagh Tragedy was also known as Disorders Inquiry Committee. The British members were as following:
- Chairman: Lord William Hunter, ex- Solicitor-General and the Senator of the College of Justice in Scotland
- WF Rice, Additional Secretary to the Government of India (Home Department)
- Justice GC Rankin, Judge of the High Court, Calcutta;
- Major General Sir George Barrow, Commandant of the Peshawar Division, a non-official Englishman
The Indian Members were in this committee included Sir Chimanlal Setalvad, Pandit Jagat Narayan and Sardar Sultan Ahmed Khan. The secretary of this committee was H G Stokes, secretary to the government of Madras.
Before the committee could publish its own report, Congress put forward its own view. This view criticized Dyer’s act as inhuman and also said that there was no justification in the introduction of the martial law in Punjab. But the Hunter Report, as expected saw the things differently. Although it condemned most of the decisions taken by General Dyer, it agreed with imposition of the martial law in Punjab. It also criticized the method of Satyagraha adopted by Gandhi and held Gandhi partially responsible for “deteriorated” law and order situation.
The result was the Dyer was sent to England, relived of his command. But rests of the things were the official opinion of the Government. This miffed Gandhi and he returned the Kaisar-I-Hind Gold medal. He said that the time has come when such blatant action of inhumanity could not be ‘remedied’ through the conventional political channels.
The time was ripe for the Khilafat Grievances as well. The result was the Indian National Congress joined hand with the Khilafat leaders and in the wake of once again shortly revived Hindu Muslim unity, Gandhi put forward the idea of nationwide non-cooperation campaign with the goal of attaining full Swaraj. as it was the only opinion left for the nationalists.