After the revolt of 1857 was suppressed by British and the company rule ended, the Indian rule was directly undertaken by the British Queen Victoria through a proclamation on November 1, 1958. She assumed the title of empress, meaning unlimited powers in the Indian affairs. There were also significant changes done to the policies towards India which aimed at strengthening the British roots in India. British sought to strengthen their rule through Princely State heads, local Zamindars and chiefs but they completely neglected other classes in the society and common masses.
Below are some important events which happened during this time period, popularly known as Indian Freedom Struggle :
- Formation of Indian National Congress(INC) : Indian National Congress was was originally formed by a retired British official, A. O. Hume and later it was found by Suredranath Banerjee with the formation of Indian Association at Calcutta in 1876. The aim of the Association was to involve and represent views of educated middle class which was not so much associated with the movement at that time. Its first session was held in Bombay in 1885. NIC took the freedom movement to the masses with ‘Swaraj Movement’ under leadership of Bal Gangadhar Tilak and Aurobindo Ghose. The Congress session held in Calcutta in 1906, under Dadabhai Naoroji, gave a call for attainment of ‘Swaraj‘ a type of self-government elected by the people within the British Dominion, as it prevailed in Canada and Australia, which were also the parts of the British Empire then.
British government tried to divide the intensity of the movement through so called reforms , but it was not very well received by Indian leaders and masses. The Morley-Minto reform introduced special representation from Muslim community in the government which were aimed at breaking Hindu-Muslim unity which was vital for the movement. However, Indian leaders including Muslim leader Muhammad Ali Jinnah sensed the same and widely opposed the reforms.
Shift of National Capital and Partition of Bengal
Following wise unrest in the country after Morley-Minto reforms, the King George made two important announcements, one was the portion of Bengal effective 1905 and the other was to shift the national capital of India from Calcutta to Delhi.
Widespread Reach of National movement
Under great leadership of leaders like Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Lala Lajpat Rai and Bipin Chandra Pal (known as Lal Bal Pal) , the movement reached to the masses and intensified. There was a virtual war going on between Indian masses and British government. To add fuel to the fire, government introduced Rowlatt Act in 1919 which empowered the government to put people in jail without any trial. This ignited fury among the Indians and caused massive demonstrations.
Jallianwala Bagh Massacre
When British government failed to control the public sentiments , they started suppressing the movement brutally. Jalianwala Bagh massacre of April 13, 1919 was a similar and one of the most inhuman acts of the British rulers in India. On this auspicious day of of Baisakhi, people of Punjab gathered in Jallianwala Bagh, near Golden Temple, Amritsar to lodge their peaceful protest against persecution by the British Indian Government. General Dyer appeared suddenly blocking only way to exit with his armed force and fired indiscriminately on innocent unarmed people including women and children. Hundreds of people lost their lives and hundreds were seriously injured. This left whole India and the world in shock and anger towards British government.