Jallianwala Bagh / Amritsar Massacre (April 13, 1919), considered as the black day of Indian history when about thousand Indians were brutally killed by the British army, initiated the mass protest against the foreign rule and made the national movement leaders more determined. The prelude of the incident was enforcement of the Rowlatt Act, an extension of the Defence of India Act, 1915, limiting civil liberties. Highly alarmed due to increasing resistance and multiple movements for India’s independence, the Britishers imposed a ban on civil liberties and on public gatherings.
On the fateful day (April 13, 1919) was Baisakhi, the main festival of Punjabis, including masses from different religious faiths whereupon a public assembly (5,000, Amritsar) was organised at Jalianwala Bagh (6/7 acres walled site with five entrances). Col. Reginald Dyer rushed to the place with troops and ordered indiscriminate shooting (on the innocent people gathered to protest/condemn the arrest as well as deportation of some National leaders) which resulted into deaths(379) and injuries (1100) as against Congress claimed 1000 dead and 1500 injured. The incident, a blatant crime against humanity brutally stunned the entire nation, wrenching loss of faith in British Government which led to non-cooperation movement (1920-22). Dyer who was initially lauded by Britons, was reprimanded/condemned for the act shaming the humanity. In protest against the mass killing, Rabindranath Tagore, the noble laureate refused the knighthood quoting “such mass murderers aren’t worthy of giving any title to anyone”.
The fateful incident forced the English rule to retrain the army while developing less violent tactics for crowd control, on one hand, while provided a decisive step in the national movement by triggering the resolve of Indian masses, transcending their caste/creed/religion to be upfront against the ‘Raj’.