The worst political crime of the 20th century occurred on April 13, 1919, which was the day of Baisakhi.
Since the beginning of World War I, resentment was growing in Punjab as the British government forcibly recruited Indian soldiers and forced them to contribute towards the war fund.
Indian soldiers were sent to distant lands and as many as 60,000 Indian soldiers lost their lives during the war.
On December 10, 1917, Viceroy Lord Chelmsford appointed a Sedition Committee under the chairmanship of Justice Rowlatt to suggest measures to deal with the revolutionary movements in India.
This further enraged Indians who thought that since the British were fighting the war to defend democracy and the right of self-determination, they will allow self-governing institutions to function in India.
The report by Sedition Committee was submitted in April 1918, and it was after the report that the government passed two Bills in the Central Assembly known as the Rowlatt Bills. They were called Black Bills by Indians.
After the passage of these Bills, he wrote a letter to the Viceroy to withdraw these Bills.
To protest against the Black Bills, Gandhiji called for a nation-wide strike on March 30 and then again on April 6. The whole nation responded enthusiastically. Hindus and Muslims joined the protest. This panicked British administration.
Two popular Amritsar leaders Dr Saifuddin and Dr Satya Pal were arrested and Gandhiji's entry in Punjab was banned. Places like Lahore, Kasur, Gujranwala and Amritsar saw mass demonstrations due to these provocations.
Amritsar was handed over to Brigadier-General Reginald Edward Harry Dyer, as the police firing on demonstrators provoked violence. General Dyer’s regime saw indiscriminate arrests and bans on meetings and it was on the order of General Dyer that the Amritsar massacre took place.
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