The Rowlatt Act, also known as the “Black Act,” was a law passed by the British Raj in India in 1919. It was named after Sir Sidney Rowlatt, the chairman of the Rowlatt Committee that recommended the act.
The act allowed the British government to arrest and detain any person suspected of plotting against the British, without trial or due process of law. It also restricted the freedom of the press and the right to assembly.
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The Rowlatt Act was met with strong opposition from Indian nationalists and political leaders such as Mahatma Gandhi. In response, Gandhi launched a nonviolent civil disobedience campaign known as the Satyagraha movement.
The movement gained widespread support among the Indian population, who saw the act as an affront to their civil liberties and human rights. The protests and strikes that followed were met with brutal repression by the British government, leading to the Jallianwala Bagh massacre in Amritsar, where British troops opened fire on a peaceful gathering of unarmed protesters, killing hundreds.
The Rowlatt Act and its violent aftermath proved to be a turning point in the Indian independence movement, as it led to a surge of nationalist sentiment and a call for complete self-rule. It also damaged the reputation of the British government both in India and internationally, as the brutal repression of peaceful protests undermined their claims to be a benevolent colonial power.
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In 1922, the Rowlatt Act was repealed by the British government, but the damage had already been done. The Black Act had backfired and served as a catalyst for the Indian independence movement, which ultimately led to India’s independence in 1947.