Monthly Archives: May 2009

HISTORY OF FREEDOM MOVEMENT-5

Gandhiji and the Belgaum Congress session

On February 5th 1924, Gandhiji was released from prison following an operation for appendicitis. The Hindu-Muslim cooperation for which he had striven so zealously had nearly vanished. With the abolition of Khilafat in Turkey, no inducement was left for majority of the Indian Muslims to cooperate with the Hindus. The Muslim League eclipsed during the Khilafat agitation found a breathing space once again. Thus with the passage of time the discord between the Hindus and the Muslims began to appear and communal riots occurred at regular intervals. To expiate for the sins of his erring countrymen, Gandhiji undertook a fast of 21 days from September 18 to October 8. This was his desperate effort to solve the communal tangle. The Council entry programme of the Swarajists was not to the liking of Gandhiji. But the circumstances as they were, it was impossible for anybody to bring back the masses to an active non-cooperation and therefore as sort of compromise was reached. The Congressmen were given freedom to decide for themselves either to work for the Council entry or to carry on the constructive work outside the Council. It was in this background that Gandhiji presided over the Belgaum session in December 1924 with the objective of restoring unity between Congressmen who were for Council entry and those against it and between Hindus and Muslims. Removal of untouchability and spread of Chakra and Khadi were the other objectives.

A Historic session: The Belgaum Congress session was a momentous event and the enthusiasm of the Kannadigas knew no bounds, as it was the only Congress session in which Gandhiji presided. The venue where the session was held, named Vijayanagara and the entrance gate was designed like the Gopura of the Virupaksha temple at Hampi. The huts for visitors and the delegates were built with Khadi and had bamboo roofs. For the supply of water round the clock a tank, Pampa Sarovara was constructed. To feed the participants, a huge kitchen was set up and thousands of lanterns and petromax light were brought from Bombay for lighting purpose. Volunteers of Hindustan Seva Dal, trained by N.S.Hardikar were looking after the arrangements and attending the comforts of the visitors.

When Gandhiji along with the Ali brothers, Sarojini Naidu, Jawaharlal Nehru, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel and a host of leaders arrived at Belgaum, they were welcomed by a mammoth crowd led by Gangadharrao Deshpande, the Chairman of the Reception Committee. Gandhiji was taken in a procession to the Congress camp. All efforts were made to represent the culture and history of Karnataka at the session. Great stalwarts of music like Veene Seshanna gave their recital and Huyilagola Narayana Rao sung the Kannada anthem ‘Udayavagali namma cheluva Kannadanadu‘ at the session. In his presidential address Gandhiji spoke on the necessity of Hindu-Muslim unity, boycott of foreign goods, encouraging spinning and weaving of Khadi, working towards eradication of untouchability and other issues. A number of session were also held at Belgaum on the occasion like the All-India Khilafat Conference, All-India Hindu Mahasabha Conference, All-India Non-Brahmin Conference, All-India Social Conference and also the first Karnataka Unification Conference, presided by Sir Siddappa Kambli.

Karnataka responded positively to the call given by Gandhiji for constructive programmes. The spread of Khadi and village industries was taken up all over Karnataka and organizations for Harijan welfare were set up in many places of the state. Between 1922 and 1925 national leaders like C.Rajagopalachari, C.R.Das, Lala Lajpat Rai, S.Srinivasa Iyengar, Pattabhi Seetharamiah, Jamnadas Mehta, Konda Venkatappiah and others toured all over Karnataka and kept the national spirit alive. The flame of freedom struggle was also kept alive by a host of Congressmen of Karnataka like N.S.Hardikar, Srinivas Rao Kaujalgi, Gangadharrao Deshpande, Kadapa Raghavendra Rao, R.R.Diwakar, Krishna Rao Mudvedkar and others. The authorities in Princely state of Mysore understood the value of spinning and weaving Khadi in the scheme of rural development and often cooperated with the Congress workers in the extension of Khadi industries and other village industries sponsored by the Congress. The Diwan of Mysore, Albion Banerjee not only permitted the Department of Industries to send exhibits to the Congress exhibition at Belgaum in 1924, but also gave a donation for the expenses.

Anti-Simon Commission agitation: For the purpose of enquiring into the working of the system of Government and the development of representative institutions in India, with a view to extend, modify or restrict the degree of responsible Government then existing in India, a statutory commission was appointed by the Government in 1927. The Commission headed by John Simon had no Indian representatives. The Commission was appointed two year earlier than the prescribed date as the ruling Conservative Party in Britain was doubtful of its victory in the next general elections and did not wanted the Labour Party, which was somewhat sympathetic to Indian aspirations should get a chance to determine the composition of the Commission.

Congressmen felt insulted by the exclusion of Indians from the Commission and the arrival of the Commission was greeted with hartal and there was wide spread demonstrations all over India. When the members of the Commission arrived at Bombay on 3rd February 1928, K.F.Nariman led the demonstration who held placard inscribed “Swaraj is our birthright” and “No representation, no Commission”. Lucknow experienced unprovoked police charges on an unarmed and peaceful protest on the occasion of the visit of the Commission. Police entered houses and beat respected people for daring to call “Simon go back”. During a party given by some Taluqdars to the members of the Commission in Lucknow, the police had barricaded the place. Still, the harmony of the party was marred by the arrival from the skies of numerous black kites and balloons bearing “Simon, go back”, “India for Indians”, etc. In Patna, a gathering of 50,000 people demonstrated against the Commission, while only a few Chaprasis and government servants gave it a welcome. Lorries of hired people, whom the government had brought from the neighbourhood, walked into the boycott camp and not the welcome camp.

Lala Lajpat Rai bereaved: At Lahore, when Lajpat Rai and others led the protest against the Commission on 30th October 1928, the police used force on the perfectly non- violent demonstration and Lajpat Rai who was in the first row received lathi blows over his chest, which proved fatal. He died on 17th November. To avenge his death, Bhagat Singh and his associates decided to assassinate J.A.Scott, the police officer under whose order the police had resorted to lathi-charge. But due to mistaken identity, instead of Scott, a probationary officer, J.P.Saunders became the victim.

In reply to the Indians protest against the non inclusive of Indians in the Simon Commission, the Secretary of State for India, Birkenhead said that the Indians had been excluded from the Commission due to their divided opinion and if they could overcome their differences and frame a draft reform proposal, due consideration would be given during the preparation of the official reform scheme.

The Nehru report: The challenge was accepted by the Congress, which constituted a committee under the president ship of Motilal Nehru. The result was a draft report, which recommended Dominion Status as the basis for the new Constitution. But as there was no provision for separate electorates, the Muslims refused to adhere to the report. Even Jawaharlal Nehru condemned the report as a timid ideal and only after a long discussion with Gandhiji accepted a compromise formula, by which Dominion Status was accepted as the basis of the new Constitution, provided the British government conceded it before the end of 1929. The failure of the government to accept the recommendations made in the Nehru report led the Congress in its session at Lahore in 1930 to declare its commitment towards realization of Swaraj. On 31st December 1929, Jawaharlal Nehru unfurled the national flag on the banks of river Ravi and the working committee of the Congress, which met on 2nd January 1930, decided to observe the 26th of January as Independence or Poorna Swaraj Day. Various towns of Karnataka observed the Independence Day with appropriate solemnity and discipline.

HISTORY OF FREEDOM MOVEMENT- 4

The Gandhian Era

The period 1920-48 has been termed as the Gandhian ear in the history of modern India . This was due to the overwhelming influence of Gandhiji on Indian politics and society. The first major agitation launched under his leadership was the Non-Cooperation Movement with the triple purpose of winning Swaraj, rectification of Punjab wrongs and the rehabilitation of the of the Khilafat.

The Khilafat Movement was purely a religious movement organized by the Indian Muslims, whose main plank was the conservation of the Turkish Empire and its Sultan, whom they acknowledged as their Caliph (spiritual head). The Indian Muslims feared that Great Britain would deal severely with Turkey for having sided with Germany in the World War I and strip her of her hold over the holy cities of Mecca and Medina . Gandhiji with a desire to secure a permanent Hindu-Muslim unity included the Khilafat issue in his agenda.

Non-Cooperation Movement: The campaign had two kinds of object: constructive and destructive. In the pursuance of the former, it was decided to raise a fund of one crore of rupees in the name of Tilak to finance the non-cooperation activities; to enroll a volunteer corps of one crore members to help in the promotion of various boycotts- social, educational, legal and economic and to distribute twenty lakh spinning wheels to provide work of the unemployed or underemployed and to replace foreign cloth by hand-made Indian cloth.

With regards to the latter, the important items were- 1. The surrender of titles, honours, etc. and the boycott of official functions. 2. The boycott of schools and colleges owned or aided by the government and the establishment of national educational institutions.3.The boycott of elections to the Central Assembly and Provincial Councils, 4. The boycott of British goods and encouragement to Swadeshi. 5. The boycott of the law courts by the lawyers who would set up popular tribunals for administering justice and 6. Not to enlist in the army and to give up government service.

Eminent lawyers like Motilal Nehru, C.R.Das, Rajendra Prasad and Rajagopalachari gave up their practice. Students came out of colleges and schools and many national institutions were founded where teachers worked for a pittance. A number of students of the Aligarh University left their studies at the bidding of Mohammad Ali and founded the Jamia Millia Islamia, which later shifted to Delhi . Subhas Chandra Bose resigned his post in the Indian Civil Service and worked as a principal of the National College at Calcutta .  The effect of the boycott of foreign cloth was felt throughout India and attained considerable success in Bengal, Bombay , Madras and the United Province (Uttar Pradesh). Similarly excise revenue fell due to boycott of liquor. In September 1921 Mohammed Ali was arrested for giving a call to Muslim soldiers in the Indian army to abandon their service, as it was religiously unlawful. Meanwhile the Khilafat meetings where the wrongs of Islam were described intensified religious feeling of the Moplahs in Kerala. The Moplahs were the descendants of the Arabs who had settled in Kerala. Under the influence of their qazis and moulvis they rebelled and committed atrocities on their Hindu neighbours. On refusal to embrace Islam, people were tortured, flayed and burnt alive.  Women were dishonoured and even pregnant women were cut to pieces and left on the roadside in the jungles, with the unborn babe protruding from its mother’s womb. In one instance a six-month old baby was snatched away from the breast of the mother and cut into two pieces. Hindu places of worship were desecrated and the wealth of the people looted. The terrible atrocities resulted in wells and tanks at various places in Malbar filled with mutilated and half dead bodies of the people.

The Chauri Chaura incident: When the Prince of Wales landed in Bombay on 17th November 1921, the Congress called for a boycott and he was greeted with black flags wherever he went. In the riots that followed, 53 people died and 400 were wounded. Between December 1921 and January 1922, about 30,000 agitators were arrested. As the situation was deteriorating, efforts to bring out a settlement was made by some leaders like Malaviya. Gandhiji demanded the release of all sathyagrahis for which the Viceroy refused. In Febuary 1922 addressed a letter to the viceroy giving notice of his intention to start a civil disobedience at Bardoli in case the government failed to settle the Khilafat question and undo the Punjab wrongs. On 5th February 1922 a police station was burnt by a mob and a number of policemen were killed at Chauri Chaura in United Province . This resulted in Gandhiji to suspend the non-cooperation movement. Gandhiji was arrested and sentenced to six-year imprisonment.

The Swaraj Party: In the absence of Gandhiji, the Congress Working Committee spent a great deal of time in taking stock of the affairs and discussing the future line of action. The Civil Disobedience Enquiry Committee constituted by the Congress in its report said that the country was not yet prepared for a non-violent agitation and recommended the party to contest elections and enter the legislative councils.

In December the Congress session held at Gaya was presided over by C.R.Das, who was a strong protagonist of Council entry. But the followers of Gandhiji and the Khilafatists defeated the proposal of Das. This led C.R.Das and Motilal Nehru to form the Swaraj party on January 1st 1923. The manifesto of the Swaraj party declared that while the goal of the party was attainment of Swaraj, the immediate objective of the party is the speedy attainment of full dominion status. It described itself as a ‘party within the Congress’ and not a rival organization. In the election, which took place in November 1923, the candidates of Swaraj party won from different provinces in considerable strength. In Central Province the party won majority of seats while in Bengal, United Province, Bombay and Assam, it won sizeable number of seats. It secured 48 seats in the Central Legislative Assembly.

In the Legislative Assemblies, the Swarajists launched severe attack on the government’s policies, exposing its various acts of omission and commission and demanded the repeal of repressive laws. They urged for increasing the number of Indians recruited into the Indian Civil Services and in the Defence service and for the release of political prisoners. In the Central Assembly the Swarajists resorted to frequent walkouts to register their protest against government highhandedness. They boycotted all receptions, parties and functions organized by the Viceroy. In Provincial Legislatures also the Swarajists created obstacles and made the job of governance difficult.

Formation of Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee: Though Tilak had aroused the spirit of patriotism of the people of Karnataka the Kannadigas had no separate political entity, which would have been a spur to concerted action. This was realized and keenly felt by leaders from the early years of the century. In 1915 the Kannada Sahithya Parishad had been established at Bangalore with the object of bringing together all Kannada-speaking people in order to create a sense of political and cultural community among them. In 1916 Alur Venkataka Rao and Kadapa Raghavendra Rao founded the Karnataka Ekikarana Sabha with the avowed object of achieving a united Karnataka. It was felt that the fight for freedom would be strengthened and sanctified if there were the consciousness of kinship among the people of Karnataka. Kadapa Raghavendra Rao toured all over Karnataka and roused the people into enthusiasm for Karnataka unity. Memorials were submitted to the Secretary of State for India, Montagu demanding a separate province for Kannada speaking people. In 1920, the All-Karnataka Political Conference was held at Dharwad under the president-ship of V.P.Madhava Rao, a former Diwan of Mysore. Here delegates from all parts of the state participated and it was decided to send maximum number of delegates from Karnataka to the Nagpur Congress session to plea for a separate Congress province, which should include all Kannada-speaking areas. The Nagpur Congress session presided by C.Vijiaraghavachariar permitted Karnataka to have a separate Pradesh Congress Committee (P.C.C.) and Gangadharrao Deshpande became the first K.P.C.C. president. A District Congress Committee was founded for Mysore state with Justice Setlur as president and local committees were started at Tumkur, Bangalore, Mysore and other places in the state.

Non-Cooperation Movement in Karnataka: In order to prop up support for the Non-Cooperation Movement, Gandhiji toured Karnataka during the 1920s. There was favourable response to his call of boycott of courts, schools and colleges and offices in places like Belgaum, Bijapur, Dharwad, etc. Men like Dattopant Majali, Jayarao Deshapande, Srinivasrao Kaujalgi, Hanumantharao Kaujalgi, Alur Venkatarao, Karnad Sadashiva Rao, K.R.Karanth and other gave up their law practice. In a number of places bonfire of foreign goods were organized. On 1st July 1921 three people were killed at Dharwad when police fired on a mob picketing a liquor shop. Many leaders were arrested for their ‘seditious’ speeches and writings and for breaking prohibitory orders. This included Gangadharrao Deshpande, Hanumantharao Mohare, Jayarao Deshapande and Hanumantharao Kaujalgi. When the Prince of Wales visited India on November 17th, 1921 there was hartal in many important places in Karnataka including Bangalore. Two Khilafat workers died of police atrocities at Bangalore Cantonment on 18th.

The constructive programme of the Congress was taken up all over Karnataka. National schools were established in Mangalore, Dharwad, Hubli, Hangal, Bagalkot, Bijapur, Gadag, Belgaum, Sirsi, Hospet, Siddapur and other places. In the National school run by Alur Venkata Rao at Dharwad, Dr. Bendre and R.R.Diwakar worked as teachers. Propagation of Khadi, the abolition of untouchability, the anti-drink campaign, village uplift, the encouragement to village industries were among the chief items of the constructive programme. They helped to awaken the spirit on national service and prepare the people for the bitter fight of the coming days.(to be continued)

HISTORY OF FREEDOM MOVEMENT-III

The Moderates and the Extremists

The partition of Bengal raised the political tempo in the country. The adoption of swadeshi and boycott of British goods provided new methods of struggle. A radical element began to assert itself from the Congress platform. Its leaders were Tilak, Lajapat Rai, Bipin Chandra Pal and Aurobindo Ghosh. This group called extremists, believed in protests and agitations and advocated boycott and passive resistance. They appealed to the masses and looked upon ancient India for guidance and inspiration. They wanted ‘Swaraj’, which they considered as their birthright. The group identified with the moderates believed in prayers and petition and looked to the west for inspiration. Their policy was a policy of mendicancy and as reward of loyalty wanted a colonial self-government. At the Congress session held at Benaras in 1905, a resolution was moved by the moderates to welcome the Prince of Wales, was to visit India in 1906. The extremists opposed the resolution and staged a walkout. The resolution was passed in their absence. The resolution regarding passive resistance moved by Tilak could not be passed. The next session of the Congress was held in Calcutta in 1906. Bipin Chandra Pal proposed Tilak for presiding over the session. As he was not acceptable for the moderates, Dadabhai Naoroji was elected as the president of the Congress session. This time the extremists were able to successfully get the resolution passed on Swaraj, Swadeshi, Boycott and National Education passed. But the moderates did not work actively for the implementation of the resolutions.

The Surat split: In 1907 the Congress session was held at Surat and the extremists proposed the name of Lala Lajpat Rai for presiding over the session. But according to an established convention the moderates wanted Rash Behari Bose, who was the Chairman of the Reception Committee of the last session at Calcutta to be elected as the president. Tilak and his supporters had no faith in him and Lala Lajpat Rai who was recently released from detention refused to accept the president ship. The name of Rash Behari Bose was proposed by S.N.Banerjee and seconded by Moti Lal Nehru. Bose was elected and took over the chair. Chaos followed when Tilak who wanted to address the delegates was not allowed to do so. Men with sticks charged the platform. Shoes were thrown on the platform. Feroz Shah Mehta and S.N.Banerjee were injured. The president declared the meeting closed and the police cleared the hall.

Aftermath the Surat split, the moderates met in Allahabad in April 1908 and drew up a constitution. They again met at Madras in December the same year. In article I of its constitution it mentioned that its goal was to participation of Indian in a system of government similar to that enjoyed by the self-governing members of the British Empire . This was to be achieved through constitutional means. The Congress (moderates) lost popularity after the split and the average number of delegates went on decreasing annually. The nationalists or extremists, left to itself might have developed a separate rival organization to the Congress, but for the repressive measures of the government. Lala Lajpat Rai was deported in 1907, Aurobindo locked as an under-trial prisoner in 1908 and after his release, he retired from politics (February 1910). In 1908 Tilak was imprisoned for six years for provocative writings.

The Muslim League was the only party, which showed new life and strength after the Congress split. The first annual session of the League was held at Karachi on 29 December 1907. The choice of Karachi , the capital of Sindh was due to its religious and historical consideration. As the League publication put it – “If a handful of men under a boy (Mohammad-Bin-Kasim) could teach Kalima to the territory of Sindh and promulgate the Shariat of god, can seven crore Muslims not make their social and political life pleasant”?

The Home Rule League: The people of Ireland were agitating for Home Rule and Mrs Annie Besant, an Englishwomen mooted the idea of Home Rule for India . She believed that the best way to preserve British connection with India was to satisfy the Indian aspirations, which was conferring of self-government. Mrs Annie Besant was the president of the Theosophical Society and was well acquainted with Indian through and culture. She had made India her home and gradually became Indianised. She realized that for the attainment of Home Rule, unity in the National movement was essential and was chiefly instrumental in bringing the reunion of moderates and extremists. Tilak after his release from Mandalay decided to work for self-government through constitutional means. He was also influenced by the freedom struggle movement in Ireland and organized the Home Rule League in Poona in July 1916. Mrs Annie Besant inaugurated her faction of Home Rule League in Madras in September 1916. While the activities of Tilak’s movement was restricted to Maharashtra, that of Mrs Annie Besant embraced the whole of India including Bombay . Tilak visited Belgaum , Sankeshwar and other places in Karnataka and opened the branches of the League. The League had its branches also at Dharwad, Siddapur, Bellary , Hubli and Mangalore. Dattopant Belvi was the president of the Karnataka unit of Home Rule League.

The idea of Home Rule appealed to a large section of the population. All sections of Congressmen joined the movement. Leaders like Lajpat Rai, C.R.Das, Jinnah, Moti Lal Nehru, Madan Mohan Malaviya and others became heads of local branches, which were set up in towns. By the beginning of 1918, Tilak’s League had 32,000 members and Mrs Annie Besant’s League had 27,000 members. Both the League aimed at conveying the message of Home Rule to the common man. In addition to newspapers, vernacular pamphlets, posters, illustrated post-cards, plays, religious songs adapted for the purpose were used and missionary style preachers were employed for Home Rule propaganda. Reading rooms were started and discussion groups and public meetings were held. Areas that were hitherto considered politically backward such as Gujrat and Sindh were drawn into the movement. For the first time in the history of the freedom struggle students were attracted to the movement in large numbers. So also were women. Tilak and Mrs Besant toured their respective areas and drew huge crowds to their meetings. In their speeches they blamed the British for poverty and backwardness in the country and declared that the only remedy for these ills was Home Rule. Their propaganda caused serious embarrassment to the authorities. Attempts were made to stop students from attending the League meetings and by restricting the movements of the leaders. On 16th June 1917, Mrs Besant along with her lieutenants, B.P.Wadia and G.S.Arundale were arrested. In July 1918 Tilak sent Lala Lajpat Rai, N.S.Hardikar and K.D.Shastri to the United States of America to set a branch of his Home Rule League in San Francisco . They worked hard to counteract the British propaganda that on account of her diversity and backwardness, India was unfit for Home Rule. Tilak himself visited England to enlist the support of the Labour party. He also appealed to Clemenceau, the president of the Paris Peace Conference to place India ‘s case for Home Rule before the representatives of the allied powers. Mrs Annie Besant’s support for the firing which took place at Jallianwallabagh, death of Tilak in 1920 and the enactment of the 1919 Act, all led to the Home Rule movement to lose its momentum. Later Gandhiji renamed the Home Rule League as Swaraj Sabha.

India and First World War: Though the people of India had no stakes in the war, they were forced to contribute in men and material for the British in their fight against Germany . Indian soldiers fought in France , Belgium , Egypt , Sudan , East Africa, North China, Persia , Mesopotamia, Palestine , Aden , etc. India ‘s supply in men, money and material was so large that Viceroy Hardinge declared in the House of Commons and repeated in his autobiography that India had been bled white by the war office. About 12,15,338 Indian soldiers were sent overseas and more than one lakh men died fighting for the British. The British Indian government made a free gift of 100 Million Sterling to England for conducting the war. This amount exceeded the annual revenue of the government of India and increased her nation debt to 30 percent. The total war expenditure of government of India up to 31st March 1918 was about 12,78,000,00 Sterling Pounds. This apart the Indian princes and people contributed about 2,100,000 Sterling in cash. There was also forced conscription and war loans. For instance in Punjab the Revenue Officer (Tahsildar) used to prepare a list of all men in a village and ask each family consisting of three or four brothers to provide one or two recruits for the war. If the fixed number were not made available voluntarily, he would resort to cruel punishment like making the men stand naked in the presence of their women folk or pushing them in between thorny bushes. Sometimes women were taken as hostages and retained until the men came forward to enlist in the army.

During the war, the government of India had enacted the Defence of India Act to curb revolutionary activities. In March 1919, as a substitute to this act, the government passed the Rowlatt Act. The Act conferred provincial governments with extraordinary powers to search, arrest, demand securities, etc. Another feature of this act was that a person accused of crime by a Special Court had no provision to go for appeal against the judgment given. Indian felt that after their splendid help for England in World War I such a repressive Act was uncalled for. In spite of opposition from all elected Indian members of the Central Legislature, the Act was passed.
The Jallianwallabagh Massacre: As a mark of protest against the Act, Gandhiji gave a call for an All India hartal on 30th March 1919, which was later postponed to 6th April. In Amritsar , the hartal organized on April 6th passed off peacefully. Michael O’ Dwyer, the Lt Governor of Punjab wanted to prevent Congress political ideas from pertaining to Punjab and hence on 10th Congress leaders, Kitchlew and Satyapal were deported from Amritsar . Mobs gathered to see the District Magistrate to entreat him to cancel the orders were stopped by police who fired upon them, causing injuries and deaths. The mob was filed with rage and started assaulting Europeans, man or woman. It sacked the National Bank and the Alliance Bank, set afire their premises and killed their European managers. The Town Hall and a number of public buildings were gutted. Telegraph wires were pulled down. A Christian missionary, Miss Sherwood was assaulted and left unconscious. (But later rescued by Indians and taken care of) These incidents led the authorities to hand over the administration of Amritsar to the military authorities and on April 11th Brigadier Dyer took charge. Proclamations were issued giving warning of dire consequences if meetings were held or processions taken. The reaction of the people was to make a protest against these threats and a meeting was summoned at Jallianwallabagh in the afternoon of April 13th. Dyer regarded this as a challenge to his authority and decided to disperse it by force.

On 13th April, the authorities had allowed the people to assemble in Jallianwallabagh, an open space surrounded by high walls on three sides with a narrow entrance. Some 20,000 people had gathered to hear the speech of Hansraj, when Dyer entered with about 50 British and 100 Indian troops and without warning ordered firing upon the people. In all 1,650 rounds were fired continuously for ten minutes. While the Hunter Committee reported 379 deaths, the Congress alleged that 1,000 people were killed. The wounded on Dyer’s order were left groaning the whole night without water and medical aid.

Repressive tactics: About 51 persons were sentenced to death and 46 to life imprisonment. Water and electricity supply were cut off in Amritsar . To avenge the assaulting of Miss Sherwood, a ‘Crawling Order’ was passed by which every passerby in the lane in which she was assaulted was not allowed to walk but to crawl on their belly. Sale of third class railway tickets was prohibited, which virtually meant stopping Indian from traveling by train. All bicycles other than those belonging to Europeans were confiscated and public platform for whipping were erected in different parts of the city. Students were asked to report themselves four times daily at a place several miles away from their colleges in the burning sun of April. These youths were made to walk 19 miles to and fro daily. Even small children were paraded three times a day to salute the British flag and many fainted due to sunstroke. Motor Cars and electric fans belonging to Indian were seized for the troops. Occupants of premises on whose walls martial law notices were pasted were ordered to protect them and were liable to punishment if in any way they were defaced or torn. Hence the household used to appoint their servants to watch them, lest they be torn or defaced perhaps by a police agent. When they applied for permission to guard the notice after 8 pm, they were told that they could have passes for this purpose for themselves but not for their servants.

Martial law was imposed in other parts of Punjab also. In Lahore , people who came out after 8 pm, violating curfew orders were liable to be shot, flogged or fined. An elderly man tending his cow outside his shop door in a side land after 8 pm was flogged. In a village not far from Lahore , a Muslim marriage party including the bridegroom, priest and guests were flogged for the offence of assembling together violating the martial law prohibiting assemblage of people. In Gujranwala , Colonel O’Brien ordered that when Indian met British officers, they must salute, alight from their carriages or dismount if they riding or driving and lower their umbrellas if they were carrying one. In one case a number of leading citizens were summarily arrested, marched several miles in the burning sun and put in a goods truck. They were refused permission to answer nature calls and kept in the truck in these condition for about 48 hours. At Kasur, Capt. Doveton confessed that some people were made to touch the ground with their forehead by way of making them acknowledge the British authority. People including Sadhus were whitewashed and lime washed and made to stand in the hot sun. About 107 persons were kept in a public cage without any overhead covering specially built for the purpose. Gradually, news of the happenings in Punjab reached the rest of India and there was an outburst of condemnation from every part. The true colour of the British was manifested when Brigadier Dyer was not only acquitted of all charges, but also showered with praise. But Michael O’Dwyer was not so lucky and in 1940 Udham Singh shot him dead in London .