Why Did the Amritsar Massacre Occur in the Context of 1919?

On April 13, 1919, British Brigadier General Reginald Dyer ordered troops to open fire on an unarmed crowd who had gathered for the Sikh Vaisakhi festival. The attack took place at Jallianwala Bagh, a walled garden with narrow passageways, in the city of Armitsar, Punjab. After about 10 minutes of gunfire, 369 people were reported dead and thousands were injured, while the unofficial count was much higher.

In the worksheet below, students will analyze what happened during the Amritsar Massacre; how in the context of post-World War I and 1919 tensions between Indians and the British were exacerbated; and how the Massacre became a major turning point in 20th century Indian history.

Download the worksheet

Additional Resources

The excerpt is taken from a May 2019 Carnegie Council podcast entitled "The Crack-Up: The Amritsar Massacre & India's Independence Movement, with Gyan Prakash." The podcast (listen below) is based off The New York Times opinion piece “The Massacre That Led to the End of the British Empire” written by historian Gyan Prakash.