The First World War started in the year of 1914. This War was fought among the nations of Europe to get colonial monopoly. During war time, the British Government made an appeal to the Indian leaders to join hands with them in their time of crisis.
Indian leaders agreed but they put their own terms and conditions i.e. after the war was over, the British government would give Constitutional (legislative and administrative) powers to the Indian People. Unfortunately, the steps taken by the British government during the World War I created unrest among the Indian people.
This was because the British government had taken a huge loan during war time which they had to repay. They increased rent from the land, i.e. lagan. They forcefully recruited Indians in the British Army. They increased the price of necessary goods and imposed taxes on personal and professional income.
As a result, they had to face protest from the Indian society. Farmers and workers of Champaran, Bardoli, Kheda and Ahmedabad actively protested against the exploitative policies of British government. Lakhs of students left schools and colleges. Hundreds of lawyers gave up their practice. Women also significantly contributed in this movement and their participation became wider with the emergence of Gandhi. The boycott of foreign cloth became a mass movement, with thousands of bonfires of foreign cloth lighting the Indian sky.
Coming together of Naram Dal and Garam Dal
During the war time, The Naram Dal and Garam Dal came together in 1916 at Lucknow Congress session. The Muslim League and the Congress agreed to separate electorates and decided to give weightage to the other party wherever they were in minority. Both Congress and Muslim League jointly demanded self-government which could no longer be ignored by the Government.
The Lucknow session was also significant as the radical leaders of the Congress were attending it after the split in 1907. It brought Tilak into prominence and he remained an active member in the Movement till his death in 1920. The pact which took place between the Congress and Muslim League aroused great hopes and aspirations in the country.
Simultaneously, the work done by the Home rule movement infused confidence and determination among the people. In order to pacify the Indians, the Montague Chelmsford Reform came in 1919. It introduced Dyarchy - which was a kind of double government in the provinces. The provisional government was to be divided into two parts - one to be responsible to the Indian Electorate through the Legislature, and other to the Governor. The report also laid stress on the Indianization of the services.
In the First World War, Britain and its allied groups won the war. During the War, Muslims supported the government with an understanding that the sacred places of Ottoman Empire would be in the hands of Khalipha. But after the War, a new treaty was imposed on the Turkish Sultan and Ottoman Empire was divided.
This angered the Muslims who took it as an insult to the Khalipha. Shoukat Ali and Mohammad Ali started the Khilafat Movement against the British government.
After the end of the First World War, the British government also passed another Act known as the Rowlatt Act. The Act authorized the British government to arrest and imprison any person without trial in a court of law. It also banned Indians from keeping any type of weapon. This angered the Sikhs, who kept a kripan (a type of small sword) with them as part of their religion.
The Indians considered this Act as an insult to them. On 13th April, 1919 on the occasion of Baisakhi fair at Jallianwalla Bagh (Amritsar), people had gathered for peaceful protest against this Act. Suddenly, a British officer, General Dyer, entered into the park with his troops and ordered them to open fire on the crowd with their machine guns. This was done without any warning to the people.
The Jalianwalla Bagh gates were closed and the people - men, women and children could not escape to safety. Within a few minutes about a thousand persons were killed. The massacre aroused the fury of the Indian people. Showing his anger and pain, the famous philosopher-poet Rabindra Nath Tagore returned his Knighthood to the British government.