The Rowlatt committee was a Sedition Committee appointed in 1918 by the British Indian Government with in Germany and in United States as well as a destabilisation in the political situation in neighbouring Afghanistan following a diplomatic mission that had attempted to rally the Amir of Afghanistan against British India. Attempts were also made by the Provisional Government of India established in Afghanistan following the mission to establish contacts with the Bolsheviks. A further reason for institution of the committee was emerging civil and labour unrest in India around the post-war recession, e.g., the Bombay mill worker's strikes and unrests in Punjab, and the 1918 flu pandemic that killed nearly 13 million people in the country.
The evidence produced before the committee substantiated the German link, although no conclusive evidence was found for a significant contribution or threat from the Bolsheviks. On the recommendations of the committee, the Rowlatt Act, an extension of the Defence of India Act 1915, was enforced in response to the threat in Punjab and Bengal.
The Rowlatt Act, instituted on the Committee's recommendations, had a significant impact on the political situation of India, irrevocably placing her on a path of political movement headed by Gandhi that ultimately dominated the Indian independence movement for the next 20 years. Also known as the Black Act, it vested the Viceroy's government with extraordinary powers to quell sedition by silencing the press, detaining the political activists without trial, and arresting without warrant any individuals suspected of sedition or treason. In protest, a nationwide cessation of work (hartal) was called, marking the beginning of widespread, although not nationwide, popular discontent.
The agitation unleashed by the acts culminated on 13 April 1919, in the Jallianwala Bagh massacre in Amritsar, Punjab when the British military commander, Brigadier-General Reginald Dyer, blocked the main entrance to the Jallianwallah Bagh, a walled in courtyard in Amritsar, and ordered his soldiers to fire into an unarmed and unsuspecting crowd of some 5,000 people who had assembled there in defiance of a ban. A total of 1,650 rounds were fired, killing 379 people (as according to an official British commission; Indian estimates ranged as high as 1,500) and wounding 1,137 in the episode, which dispelled wartime hopes of home rule and goodwill in a frenzy of post-war reaction.
- Committee members 1
- See also 2
- References 3
- Further reading 4
- External links 5
- Sidney Rowlatt - President
- JDV Hodge - Secretary (a member of Bengal civil service)
- Basil Scott - Member (Chief Justice of the Bombay High Court)
- C. V. Kumaraswami Sastri - Member (judge of Madras High Court)
- Verney Lovett - Member (member of Board of Revenue for United Provinces)
- P. C. Mitter - Member (member of Bengal Legislative Council)
- Tinker 1968, p. 92
- Lovett 1920, pp. 94, 187–191
- Sarkar 1921, p. 137
- "Portrait of a Bengal Revolutionary". Leonard A. Gordon. The Journal of Asian Studies, Vol. 27, No. 2 (Feb., 1968), pp. 197-216
- Colett 2007, p. 218
- Chandler 2001, p. 179
- Ackerman, Peter, and Duvall, Jack, A Force More Powerful: A Century of Nonviolent Conflict p. 74.
- Lovett, Sir Verney (1920), A History of the Indian Nationalist Movement, New York: Frederick A. Stokes Company,
- Sarkar, B.K. (March 1921). Political Science Quarterly (Academy of Political Science) 36 (1): 136–138. .
- Tinker, Hugh (Oct 1968). "India in the First World War and after. 1918-19: From War to Peace.". Journal of Contemporary History (Sage Publications) 3 (4): 89–107. .
- Collett, Nigel (2007), The Butcher of Amritsar: General Reginald Dyer (New ed.), Hambledon & London, .
- Chandler, Malcolm; Wright, John (2001), Modern World History., Heinemann Educational Publishers. 2nd Review edition, .
- Rowlatt Committee report