Monday, 24 June, 2019

Britain shamed and still not sorry: The 1919 Amritsar massacre

Mahatma Gandhi Central Press Getty Images
Patty Aguilar | 14 April, 2019, 18:30

Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh on Sunday accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of playing "dirty politics" after the PM claimed that the Congress leader skipped an official event marking the Jallianwala Bagh massacre's centenary as he was busy in "Congress parivar's bhakti".

The Jallianwala Bagh massacre, as it is known in India, saw British troops fire on thousands of unarmed men, women and children in the northern city of Amritsar on the afternoon of April 13, 1919. "We will never forget what happened here".

On Baisakhi festival on April 13, 1919, Brigadier General Reginald Dyer had opened fire on unarmed people at Jallianwala Bagh in Amritsar. "Our neighbour and the entire country was paying tributes to the martyrs of Jallianwala Bagh". India's main opposition Congress party president Rahul Gandhi and Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh visited the memorial at Jallianwala Bagh and paid homage to those killed in the massacre. Gandhi wrote in the visitors' book, "The cost of freedom must never ever be forgotten".

Britain's high commissioner to India laid a wreath on Saturday on the 100th anniversary of the Amritsar massacre, one of the worst atrocities of colonial rule for which London is still to apologise. "We salute the people of India who gave everything they had for it".

"There are events in the histories of nations which are hard to forget and they hold a very emotionally charged space in a nation's memory", Navtej Sarna, a Sikh who has served as India's High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, told Reuters. However, the Daily Mail reported that when David Cameron was the British Prime Minister, he expressed regret for the incident. At the end of the march, people observed a two-minute silence.

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In another tweet, she said: "Pb CM @capt_amarinder took @RahulGandhi to Sri Akal Takht Sahib but lacked courage to ask him to admit the @INCIndia's sin of demolishing Sikhs' highest religio-temporal seat with tanks & mortars".

President Ram Nath Kovind, Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu and Prime Minister Narendra Modi took to Twitter to pay tributes to the martyrs of the incident.

The Jallianwala Bagh massacre is considered a symbol of colonial cruelty and the Indian public and governments has been demanding an apology for it from the United Kingdom for decades, including on the occasion of the visit of Queen Elizabeth to Amritsar in 1997. We deeply regret what happened and the suffering caused.

British High Commissioner Dominic Asquith, a descendant of Herbert Asquith, prime minister from 1908 to 1916, on Saturday followed suit at the Jallianwala Bagh walled garden, where bullet marks are still visible.

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