On 10 April 1919, two nationalist leaders- Dr Saifuddin Kitchlew and Dr Satya Pal were arrested in Punjab. On 13 April 1919, people gathered in a small park in Amritsar which was called the Jalllianwala Bagh, to protest against these arrests. The peaceful gathering was attended by men, women and children. General Dyer, a British military officer, stationed a regiment of soldiers at the only entrance of the park, declared the meeting illegal and without warning ordered his soldiers to fire. The firing lasted for ten minutes, till all the ammunition was exhausted. More than a thousand people were killed and over twice that number wounded.
The massacre inflamed the anger of the Indians. After the massacre, General Dyer said that he had ordered his troops to fire to teach the Indians a lesson. This added fuel to the fire. There were widespread protests. Rabindranath Tagore renounced his knighthood I protest. All nationalist leaders condemned this shameful act. The government leaders martial law in Punjab and resorted to inhuman cruelties to stem the rising tide of protests. People were tortured and newspapers were banned. However, all this strengthened people’s determination to fight against oppression.