The present paper seeks to provide a broad historical outline of the emergence and growth of human rights consciousness and movement in colonial India. Largely, it was observed that the rights consciousness was connected to the emergence of organized landed gentry and middle class. They tended to perceive 'civil liberties' as something that only advanced sections of the natives can enjoy and appreciate. Rowlatt Satyagraha, the struggle against the Rowlatt Act, was a watershed development in the history of human rights movement in India. The significance becomes pertinent because the focus of the civil liberties changed from 'equality' with the British to opposition to the colonial state. The Satyagraha and its coercive suppression by the government brought in a new era of civil liberty consciousness. By the time of Quit India Movement in 1942, the Human Rights Movement in Colonial India reached its moribund state. It was only after the independence, when the Indian government had shown a coercive approach to social turbulence that there were efforts of revival of the movement.



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