Rowlatt Act

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The Anarchical and Revolutionary Crimes Act of 1919 , popularly known as the Rowlatt Act or Black Act, was a legislative act passed by the Imperial Legislative Council in Delhi on 10 March 1919, indefinitely extending the emergency measures of preventive indefinite detention, incarceration without trial and judicial review enacted in the Defence of India Act 1915 during the First World War. It was enacted in light of a perceived threat from revolutionary nationalist organisations of re-engaging in similar conspiracies as during the war which the Government felt the lapse of the DIRA regulations would enable. [1] [2] [3] [4] [5]

Imperial Legislative Council legislature for British India from 1861 to 1947

The Imperial Legislative Council was a legislature for British India from 1861 to 1947. It succeeded the Council of the Governor-General of India, and was succeeded by the Constituent Assembly of India and after 1950, was succeeded by Parliament of India.

Delhi Megacity and Union territory of India

Delhi, officially the National Capital Territory of Delhi (NCT), is a city and a union territory of India containing New Delhi, the capital of India. It is bordered by Haryana on three sides and by Uttar Pradesh to the east. The NCT covers an area of 1,484 square kilometres (573 sq mi). According to the 2011 census, Delhi's city proper population was over 11 million, the second-highest in India after Mumbai, while the whole NCT's population was about 16.8 million. Delhi's urban area is now considered to extend beyond the NCT boundaries and include the neighboring satellite cities of Faridabad, Gurgaon, Ghaziabad and Noida in an area now called Central National Capital Region (CNCR) and had an estimated 2016 population of over 26 million people, making it the world's second-largest urban area according to United Nations. As of 2016, recent estimates of the metro economy of its urban area have ranked Delhi either the most or second-most productive metro area of India. Delhi is the second-wealthiest city in India after Mumbai, with a total private wealth of $450 billion and is home to 18 billionaires and 23,000 millionaires.

Defence of India Act 1915

The Defence of India Act 1915, also referred to as the Defence of India Regulations Act, was an emergency criminal law enacted by the Governor-General of India in 1915 with the intention of curtailing the nationalist and revolutionary activities during and in the aftermath of the First World War. It was similar to the British Defence of the Realm Acts, and granted the Executive very wide powers of preventive detention, internment without trial, restriction of writing, speech, and of movement. However, unlike the English law which was limited to persons of hostile associations or origin, the Defence of India act could be applied to any subject of the King, and was used to an overwhelming extent against Indians. The passage of the act was supported unanimously by the non-official Indian members in the Viceroy's legislative council, and was seen as necessary to protect against British India from subversive nationalist violence. The act was first applied during the First Lahore Conspiracy trial in the aftermath of the failed Ghadar Conspiracy of 1915, and was instrumental in crushing the Ghadr movement in Punjab and the Anushilan Samiti in Bengal. However its widespread and indiscriminate use in stifling genuine political discourse made it deeply unpopular, and became increasingly reviled within India. The extension of the law in the form of the Rowlatt Act after the end of World War I was opposed unanimously by the non-official Indian members of the Viceroy's council. It became a flashpoint of political discontent and nationalist agitation, culminating in the Rowlatt Satyagraha. The act was re-enacted during World War II as Defence of India act 1939. Independent India retained the law in a number of amended forms, which have seen use in proclaimed states of national emergency including Sino-Indian War, Bangladesh crisis, The Emergency of 1975 and subsequently the Punjab insurgency.

Sir Sidney Arthur Taylor Rowlatt Sir Sidney Arthur Taylor Rowlatt (cropped).jpg
Sir Sidney Arthur Taylor Rowlatt

Passed on the recommendations of the Rowlatt Committee and named after its president, British judge Sir Sidney Rowlatt, this act effectively authorized the government to imprison any person suspected of terrorism living in British India for up to two years without a trial, and gave the imperial authorities power to deal with all revolutionary activities.

The Rowlatt Committee was a Sedition Committee appointed in 1917 by the British Indian Government with Sidney Rowlatt, an English judge, as its president.

Sidney Rowlatt English barrister and judge

Sir Sidney Arthur Taylor Rowlatt, KCSI was an English lawyer and judge, best remembered for his controversial presidency of the Rowlatt Committee, a sedition committee appointed in 1918 by the British Indian Government to evaluate the links between political terrorism in India, especially Bengal and the Punjab, and the German government and the Bolsheviks in Russia. The committee gave rise to the Rowlatt Act, an extension of the Defence of India Act 1915

Terrorism use of violence and intimidation against civilians in order to further a political goal

Terrorism is, in the broadest sense, the use of intentionally indiscriminate violence as a means to create terror among masses of people; or fear to achieve a religious or political aim. It is used in this regard primarily to refer to violence during peacetime or in war against non-combatants. The terms "terrorist" and "terrorism" originated during the French Revolution of the late 18th century but gained mainstream popularity in the 1970s in news reports and books covering the conflicts in Northern Ireland, the Basque Country and Palestine. The increased use of suicide attacks from the 1980s onwards was typified by the September 11 attacks in New York City and Washington, D.C. in 2001.

The unpopular legislation provided for stricter control of the press, arrests without warrant, indefinite detention without trial, and juryless in camera trials for proscribed political acts. The accused were denied the right to know the accusers and the evidence used in the trial. [6] Those convicted were required to deposit securities upon release, and were prohibited from taking part in any political, educational, or religious activities. [6] On the report of the committee, headed by Justice Rowlatt, two bills were introduced in the central legislature in February 1919. These bills came to be known as "black bills". They gave enormous powers to the police to search a place and arrest any person they disapproved of without warrant. Despite much opposition, the Rowlatt Act was passed in March 1919. The purpose of the act was to curb the growing nationalist upsurge in the country.

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 angered many Indian leaders and the public, which caused the government to implement repressive measures. Gandhi and others thought that constitutional opposition to the measure was fruitless, so on 6 April, a hartal was organised where Indians would suspend all business and would fast, pray and hold public meetings against the 'Black Act' as a sign of their opposition and civil disobedience would be offered against the law. This event was known as the Non-cooperation movement.

Mahatma Gandhi Pre-eminent leader of Indian nationalism during British-ruled India

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was an Indian activist who was the leader of the Indian independence movement against British colonial rule. Employing nonviolent civil disobedience, Gandhi led India to independence and inspired movements for civil rights and freedom across the world. The honorific Mahātmā was applied to him first in 1914 in South Africa – is now used worldwide. In India, he was also called Bapu, a term that he preferred and Gandhi ji, and is known as the Father of the Nation.

Hartal mass protest, often involving a total shutdown of workplaces

Hartal, also bandh, is a term in many South Asian languages for a strike action and was used first during the Indian Independence Movement. A hartal is a mass protest, often involving a total shutdown of workplaces, offices, shops, and courts of law, and a form of civil disobedience similar to a labour strike. In addition to being a general strike, it involves the voluntary closing of schools and places of business. It is a mode of appealing to the sympathies of a government to reverse an unpopular or unacceptable decision. A hartal is often used for political reasons, for example by an opposition political party protesting against a governmental policy or action.

The Non-Cooperation Movement was a significant but short phase of the Indian independence movement from British rule. It was led by Mahatma Gandhi after the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre and lasted from 1920 to February 1922. It aimed to resist British rule in India through non-violent means, or "Ahimsa". Protesters would refuse to buy British goods, adopt the use of local handicrafts and picket liquor shops. The ideas of Ahimsa and non-violence, and Gandhi's ability to rally hundreds of thousands of common citizens towards the cause of Indian independence, were first seen on a large scale in this movement through the summer of 1920. Gandhi feared that the movement might lead to popular violence. The non-cooperation movement was launched on 1 August 1920 and withdrawn in February 1922 after the Chauri Chaura incident.

However, the success of the hartal in Delhi, on 30 March, was overshadowed by tensions running high, which resulted in rioting in the Punjab and other provinces. Deciding that Indians were not ready to make a stand consistent with the principle of nonviolence, an integral part of satyagraha, Gandhi suspended the resistance.

Punjab Province (British India) former province of British India

Punjab, also spelled Panjab, was a province of British India. Most of the Punjab region was annexed by the East India Company in 1849, and was one of the last areas of the Indian subcontinent to fall under British control. In 1858, the Punjab, along with the rest of British India, came under the direct rule of the British crown. The province comprised five administrative divisions, Delhi, Jullundur, Lahore, Multan and Rawalpindi and a number of princely states. In 1947, the partition of India led to the province being divided into East Punjab and West Punjab, in the newly created Union of India and Dominion of Pakistan respectively.

Nonviolence philosophy, personal or collective attitude, refusing to legitimate violence and promoting the respect of others in conflicts

Nonviolence is the personal practice of being harmless to self and others under every condition. It comes from the belief that hurting people, animals or the environment is unnecessary to achieve an outcome and refers to a general philosophy of abstention from violence. This may be based on moral, religious or spiritual principles, or it may be for purely strategic or pragmatic reasons.

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

Saifuddin Kitchlew Indian revolutionary and politician

Saifuddin Kitchlew was an Indian freedom fighter, barrister, politician and a Nationalist Muslim leader. A member of Indian National Congress, he first became Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee head and later the General Secretary of the AICC in 1924. He is most remembered for the protests in Punjab after the implementation of Rowlatt Act in March 1919, after which on 10 April, he and another leader Satya Pal, were secretly sent to Dharamsala. A public protest rally against their arrest and that of Gandhi, on 13 April 1919 at Jallianwala Bagh, Amritsar, led to the infamous Jallianwala Bagh massacre. He was awarded the Stalin Peace Prize in 1952.

The army was called into Punjab, and on 13 April people from neighbouring villages gathered for Baisakhi Day celebrations and to protest against deportion of two important Indian leaders in Amritsar, which led to the infamous Jallianwala Bagh massacre of 1919. [7] [8]

Accepting the report of the Repressive Laws Committee, the Government of India repealed the Rowlatt Act, the Press Act, and twenty-two other laws in March 1922. [9]

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Reginald Dyer British Indian Army general

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Salt March 1930 Indian independence movement event led by Mahatma Gandhi

The Salt March, also known as the Dandi March and the Dandi Satyagraha, was an act of nonviolent civil disobedience in colonial India led by Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi to produce salt from the seawater in the coastal village of Dandi, as was the practice of the local populace until British officials introduced taxation on salt production, deemed their sea-salt reclamation activities illegal, and then repeatedly used force to stop it. The 24-day march lasted from 12 March 1930 to 6 April 1930 as a direct action campaign of tax resistance and nonviolent protest against the British salt monopoly. It gained worldwide attention which gave impetus to the Indian independence movement and started the nationwide Civil Disobedience Movement. Mahatma Gandhi started this march with 78 of his trusted volunteers. Walking ten miles a day for 24 days, the march spanned over 240 miles.

Udham Singh Indian revolutionary

Udham Singh, was a revolutionary belonging to the Ghadar Party best known for assassinating Michael O' Dwyer, the former lieutenant governor of the Punjab in India, on 13 March 1940. The assassination was in revenge for the Jallianwala Bagh massacre in Amritsar in 1919. Singh was subsequently tried and convicted of murder and hanged in July 1940. While in custody, he used the name Ram Mohammad Singh Azad, which represents the three major religions of Punjab and his anti-colonial sentiment.

Preventive detention is an imprisonment that is putatively justified for non-punitive purposes.

Michael ODwyer British colonial administrator

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Events in the year 1919 in India.

Anushilan Samiti Nationalist organization of India

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The Maintenance of Internal Security Act (MISA) was a controversial law passed by the Indian parliament in 1971 giving the administration of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and Indian law enforcement agencies very broad powers – indefinite preventive detention of individuals, search and seizure of property without warrants, and wiretapping – in the quelling of civil and political disorder in India, as well as countering foreign-inspired sabotage, terrorism, subterfuge and threats to national security. The law was amended several times during the subsequently declared national emergency (1975–1977) and used for quelling political dissent. Finally it was repealed in 1977, when Indira Gandhi lost the Indian general election, 1977 and the Janata Party came to power.

Jallianwala Bagh massacre seminal event in the British rule of India

The Jallianwala Bagh massacre, also known as the Amritsar massacre, took place on 13 April 1919 when troops of the British Indian Army under the command of Colonel Reginald Dyer fired rifles into a crowd of Punjabis, who had gathered in Jallianwala Bagh, Amritsar, Punjab. The Rowlatt Act, 1919 had been implemented, but the civilians were not informed. The civilians had assembled for a festival known as Baisakhi. Baisakhi marks the Sikh new year and commemorates the formation of Khalsa panth of warriors under Guru Gobind Singh in 1699. It is additionally a spring harvest festival for the Sikhs. It is also stated that it marks peaceful protest to condemn the arrest and deportation of two national leaders, Satya Pal and Saifuddin Kitchlew. Raja Ram has argued, however, that the Proclamation was ineffective, the crowd formed in deliberate defiance and the event signals a beginning of Indian nationalism.

In India, Flag Satyagraha is a campaign of peaceful civil disobedience during the Indian independence movement that focused on exercising the right and freedom to hoist the nationalist flag and challenge the legitimacy of the British Rule in India through the defiance of laws prohibiting the hoisting of nationalist flags and restricting civil freedoms. Flag Satyagrahas were conducted most notably in the city of Nagpur in 1923 but also in many other parts of India.

The Hindu–German Conspiracy failed to engage popular support within India. However, it had a significant impact on Britain's policies both in the empire, as well as on her international relations. The outlines and plans for the nascent ideas of the conspiracy were noted and began to be tracked by the British intelligence as early as 1911. Alarmed at the agile organisation, which repeatedly reformed at different parts of the country despite being subdued in others, the chief of Indian Intelligence Sir Charles Cleveland was forced to warn that the idea and attempt at pan-Indian revolutions were spreading through India "like some hidden fire". A massive, concerted and coordinated effort was required to subdue the movement. Attempts were made in 1914 to prevent the naturalisation of Tarak Nath Das as an American citizen, while successful pressure was applied to have Har Dayal interned. The conspiracy had been detected early by British intelligence, and had been the subject of strong British pressure from 1914.

National Security Act (India)

The National Security Act of 1980 is an act of the Indian Parliament promulgated on 23 September, 1980 whose purpose is "to provide for preventive detention in certain cases and for matters connected therewith". The act extends to the whole of India except the State of Jammu and Kashmir. It Contains 18 sections. This act empowers the Central Government and State Governments to detain a person to prevent him/her from acting in any manner prejudicial to the security of India, the relations of India with foreign countries, the maintenance of public order, or the maintenance of supplies and services essential to the community it is necessary so to do. The act also gives power to the governments to detain a foreigner in a view to regulate his presence or expel from the country. The act was passed in 1980 during the Indira Gandhi Government.

Benjamin Guy Horniman was a British journalist and editor of The Bombay Chronicle, particularly notable for his support of Indian independence.

Chauri Chaura incident

The Chauri Chaura incident occurred at Chauri Chaura in the Gorakhpur district of the United Province, in British India on 5 February 1922, when a large group of protesters, participating in the Non-cooperation movement, clashed with police, who opened fire. In retaliation the demonstrators attacked and set fire to a police station, killing all of its occupants. The incident led to the deaths of three civilians and 22 policemen. Mahatma Gandhi, who was strictly against violence, halted the non co-operation movement on the national level on 12 February 1922, as a direct result of this incident. In his autobiography, Jawaharlal Nehru describes this decision as a set back and extremely demoralizing for workers of Congress who were in jail when Gandhi took this decision. Bhagat Singh protested at the taking back of the non-cooperation movement.

References

  1. Popplewell 1995 , p. 175
  2. Lovett 1920 , pp. 94, 187–191
  3. Sarkar 1921 , p. 137
  4. Tinker 1968 , p. 92
  5. Fisher 1972 , p. 129
  6. 1 2 Vohra, Ranbir (2001). The Making of India: A Historical Survey, 2nd Ed. Armonk, New York: M.E. Sharpe. ISBN   0-7656-0711-5. p. 126.
  7. "From the Land of Paradise to the Holy City". The Tribune. 26 January 2006.
  8. "Op-ed: Let's not forget Jallianwala Bagh". Daily Times. 13 April 2003.
  9. The history of British India: a chronology, John F. Riddick, 2006

See also