British PM voices regret over 1919 India Amritsar massacre

Sergio Conner
April 13, 2019

"Even British Prime Minister Theresa May has termed the Jallianwala Bagh tragedy "a shamefuI scar".

BRITISH prime minister Theresa May expressed regret for the Amritsar atrocity, but stopped short of a full apology on Wednesday (10). The British Indian Army troops, under the command of Colonel Reginald Dyer, opened fired at peaceful protesters holding a demonstration.

And the Jallianwala Bagh tragedy was not just shameful but an outright massacre in which hundreds were killed and thousands were injured. "As Her Majesty the Queen (Elizabeth II) said before visiting Jallianwala Bagh in 1997, it is a distressing example of our past history with India", May said in her statement.

"We deeply regret what happened and the suffering caused", May told the British parliament, as India prepares to mark the 100th anniversary of the killings.

"Relations between the United Kingdom and India today are friendly and constructive".

A memorial ceremony will take place at site of the massacre on Saturday.

"I feel that we perhaps need to go further..." He added, "There are also concerns that any government department has, to make about any apology, given that there may well be financial implications to making an apology".

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"These issues are an important way of trying to draw a line under the past".

Labour MP for Brent North and shadow secretary for global trade, Barry Gardiner, said unless Britain acknowledged historic events, "we will be unable to learn from the errors we have made or to build a positive future with those we have harmed".

Conservative MP Bob Blackman, who secured the debate, said in an emotional speech that he is ashamed that the incident occurred "in my name", and said its centenary is an appropriate time for the government to tender a full apology. "I think the right thing to do is to acknowledge what happened, to recall what happened, to show respect and understanding for what happened", he said at the time.

Vice-President M Venkaiah Naidu and All India Congress Committee (AICC) president Rahul Gandhi will be here to attend the Jallianwala Bagh function on April 13.

Fellow British-Asian MPs Virendra Sharma and Khalid Mahmood have also urged the government to apologise.

A press note issued by the police on Tuesday said: "Executive Magistrate-cum-Deputy Commissioner Police, Amritsar, Bhupinder Singh using his powers under Section 144 in CrPC, 1973, has ordered the ban over the assembly of five or more persons at one place for protest, rallies, meetings or raising slogans in the jurisdiction of all police stations of Amritsar police".

The resolution said "an apology for the massacre would be a befitting tribute to the martyrs of Jallianwala Bagh during its centenary year".

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