Transcript

Report on the Amritsar massacre
Catalogue reference: CAB 24/153 f112



6

INDIA.

Riots. - The Viceroy reported to the India Office by telegrams dated April 11th and 13th that grave disorders had occurred in various parts of India. It was anticipated that some outbreak would result about April 6th, which had been set apart as a day of "humiliation and prayer" in protest against the Rowlatt Bills by the extremist society known as the Satyagraha Sabha (see below). Little disturbance, however, occurred on that day, which, the Viceroy's reports show, passed quietly in most places, though there were many meetings and demonstrations. It was not till the 10th or 11th that the news of serious rioting, accompanied by loss of life, was received.
          The trouble occurred principally in the Punjab, particularly at Amritsar, the sacred city of the Sikhs, and in Bombay Presidency at Ahmedabad, the second city of the Presidency. The mobs burned banks, Government buildings and railway premises. They also cut telegraph wires, and at Amritsar they burned to death three bank managers.
          Troops were called in to restore order, and there were casualties on both sides. In the Punjab five Europeans were killed and nine rioters, while 21 were wounded. At Kasur one British soldier was killed and one wounded, and from Ahmedabad "slight loss of life" is reported.
          The latest information is to the effect that order has been restored in the areas of disturbance.

Day of Humiliation and Prayer. – In an earlier communication the Government of India reported that a manifesto ordaining that Sunday, April 6th, should be observed as a day of humiliation and prayer had been issued in Bombay by a society known as the Satyagraha Sabha.
          The manifesto stated that owing to the Delhi tragedy demonstrators had been enjoined that there should be no talking and no noise, and that absolute silence should prevail. No pressure of any kind whatsoever should be put on those who do not fast or suspend work, and those not participating in the national mourning should be left absolutely undisturbed. Persons taking part in the demonstration were asked to obey all police instructions.

Delhi Riots. - The Government of India have telegraphed to the Secretary of State the text of a communiqué issued by them in India with the object of contradicting certain misrepresentations which have been spread. The communiqué is as follows:-
          There is reason to believe that misleading accounts of the effects of the Anarchical and Revolutionary Crimes Act, commonly known as the Rowlatt Bills, are being circulated among the more ignorant sections of the population.

          Thus in Delhi it is reported that large sections of the populace believe that the Act empowers any police officer to arrest without warrant any three Indians seen engaged in conversation and to enter and search without warrant any house. These beliefs, sedulously propagated by evilly disposed persons, and allowed to pass uncontradicted by others, doubtless account largely for the high state of excitement prevalent among the crowds that came in conflict with the police and military at Delhi on March 30th with fatal results.
          It is hardly necessary to state that the Act contains no provisions of the nature indicated. It confers no powers of arbitrary arrest or search on the police, and the only reference which it contains to arrest or search is in section 34 (1), which authorises the arrest on the written order of a local government of any person where reasonable grounds exist for believing that he has been, or is, concerned in certain serious offences in any area to which Part 3 of the Act has been extended. The same section permits the search under similar authority of any place in such area believed to have been used by such person for any purpose connected with an anarchical or revolutionary movement.
          No part of the Act is yet in force, nor can any part be brought into force in any province or area unless and until the Governor-General of India in Council is satisfied that an anarchical or revolutionary movement is being promoted in such province or area.

Famine. - The Government of India in a telegram to the India Office dated April 11th stated that famine had been declared in Baghelkhand Agency, Central India.


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