On 13 April 1919 in Amritsar, British troops opened fire on a gathering of unarmed civilians, including women and children, at the Jallianwalla Bagh in Amritsar. This bloody event, which came to be known as the Amritsar massacre, killed approximately 379 people and injured 1,200 others. The civilians had assembled at Jallianwala Bagh to celebrate the annual Baisakhi festival, which also attracted peasants from surrounding villages for a visit to the Golden Temple. The troops fired at them on orders by Brigadier-General Reginald Edward Harry Dyer. The people were not aware that martial law had been imposed. On 15 April, martial law was declared in several other towns in the Punjab. The Punjab government, headed by Sir Michael O’Dwyer, believed that there was a conspiracy to overthrow the British Raj. The Amritsar massacre precipitated Mahatma Gandhi’s alienation from the Raj and had a profound impact on Indian politics. What angered Gandhi and nationalist India was Britain’s reaction to them after the massacre.
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