Rowlatt Act


Rowlatt Act

The Rowlatt Act was a law passed by the British Raj in India in March 1919, indefinitely extending "emergency measures" (of the Defence of India Regulations Act) enacted during the First World War in order to control public unrest and root out conspiracy. Passed on the recommendations of the Rowlatt commission, named for its chairman, British judge Sir Sidney Rowlatt, this act effectively authorized the government to imprison, without trial, any person suspected of terrorism living in the Raj. The Rowlatt Acts gave British imperial authorities power to deal with revolutionary activities.

Mahatma Gandhi, among other Indian leaders, was extremely critical of the Act and argued that not everyone should be punished in response to isolated political crimes. The Act led to indignation from Indian leaders and the public, which caused the government to implement repressive measures. Gandhi and others found that constitutional opposition to the measure was fruitless, so on April 6th, a "hartal" was organized where Indians would suspend all business and fast as a sign of their hatred for the legislation. This was the Rowlatt satyagraha.

However, the success of the Rowlatt satyagraha in Delhi, on 30th March, was overshadowed by tensions running high, which resulted in rioting in the Punjab and other provinces. Gandhi saw that Indians were not ready for such a stand, in consistence with the principle of Ahimsa(non-violence), an integral part of Satyagraha, and suspended the it.

The Rowlatt Act came into effect in March 1919. In the Punjab the protest movement was very strong, and on April 10th, two outstanding leaders of the congress Dr. Satya Pal and Dr. Saifuddin Kitchlew, were arrested and taken to an unknown place.

A protest was held in Amritsar, which led to the Amritsar Massacre of 1919.

ee also

*Rowlatt commission
*Champaran and Kheda Satyagraha
*Amritsar massacre
* See , summary of the Rowlatt Act.


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