The British passed the Rowlatt Act in the year 1919. The Act curbed fundamental rights such as the freedom of expression and strengthened police powers. The Act was very repressive and therefore it enraged Indians. Prominent leaders of the freedom struggles such as Mahatma Gandhi, Mohammad Ali Jinnah, etc. felt that the government had no right to restrict the basic freedoms of people. They viewed the Act as devilish and tyrannical. Gandhiji decided to oppose this Act. He asked people of India to observe 6 April 1919 as a day of non-violent opposition to the Act, as a day of “humiliation and prayer’ and hartal. He organised Satyagraha Sabhas to launch the movement.
The Rowlatt Satyagraha spread far and wide. It became the first All- India struggle against the British government. In April 1919 several demonstrations and hartals took place in the country. But the government suppressed them taking brutal measures. The Jallianwala Bagh massacre was the climax of its brutality. This incident took place on 13 April in Amritsar on Baishakhi day. Thousands of people had gathered in the Jallianwala Bagh to celebrate the occasion. General Dyre opened fire on them all of a sudden.
Both Hindu and Muslim unitedly criticised the British action.