"The Amritsar tragedy was a burning point in India-British relations and almost as important as the Mutiny of 1857"
The Jallianwala Bagh massacre represents a major turning point in India's struggle for independence. In the early 1900s, nationalism was on the rise in India and people realized that they could fight for independence provided they were united and organized. The First World War, in fact, gave impetus to the nationalist movement all over Asia and Africa as the colonizing nations, in a bid to win support for their war efforts promised freedom and democracy to their people in the colonies. World War II also ended the natives' awe for the White man's authority.
The British government in India, aware of the rising tide of nationalist sentiments responded with a policy of concessions and repressions. The much-anticipated political autonomy never materialized and instead of one man, one vote, Indians got partial constitutional reforms and some extremely repressive measures like the Rowlatt Act of 1919. The system of Dyarchy was introduced. Though this gave elected representatives in the provinces more power, the Viceroy was still in control and could completely overrule his ministers' advice. To further strengthen the British government, the Rowlatt Act, which authorized the government to imprison any person without trial or conviction in a court of law, was passed despite opposition from every Indian member of the Central Legislative Council.
Three members of the Council Mohammed Ali Jinnah, Madan Mohan Malviya and Mazhar-ul-Hat resigned in protest and the whole nation demonstrated its anger against such a repression of civil liberties. Gandhiji launched the Satyagrah Sabha to oppose the Rowlatt Act - members vowed to court arrest and there were demonstrations, hartals and strikes all over India.
On 30th March and 6th April, 1919, peaceful strikes were organized at Amritsar to protest against the Rowlatt Act. The prominent leaders of congress, Dr. Satyapal and Dr. Kitchlu, were arrested. This sparked off a strike in the city. The people marched to the Deputy Commissioner to request him to release the leaders. The police opened fire to disperse the mob. The mob turned violent and killed a few officers, injured two British women, set fire to Government buildings, as well as looted property. The police and the army used force to restore order.