The First World war exposed the falsehood of the claim of superiority of the Europeans. The communist Revolution of 1917 in Russia placed an inspiring ideal before the world. The deteriorating economic condition of Indian during the war intensified popular discontent.
The Indians had supported the British in all their war efforts and expected something substantial after the war. But they got the Act of 1919 which was totally disappointing. The government passed the repressive Rowlatt Act much against the wishes of the Indians. The Act permitted no pleader, no argument and no appeal (no vakil, no daleel and no appeal).
In the wake of strong protests from all quarters and universal opposition to the Act, Gandhi announced that he would resort to Satyagraha. Gandhi gave a call to start the movement on 6th April 1919. The people were asked to observe Hartal, engage in fasting and prayers and organise peaceful meetings, processions. The aim was to get the withdrawal of the Rowlatt Act. Hartals, meetings and processions were organised peacefully all over India. But when the government tried to suppress the movement by force, violence broke out at several places.
The agitation against the Rowlatt Act was at its highest in Amritsar in Pubjab. The hartal had passed off peacefully but the city and province were set ablaze by the arrest and deportation of Dr. Satyapal and Saifuddin Kitchlew, the two prominent leaders of Punjab on 10 April, 1919 to some unknown places.