Jal­lian­wala mas­sacre: A shame­ful act, says UK stop­ping short of a for­mal sorry

Lon­don Mayor Sadiq Khan had called for an apol­ogy on 100th an­niver­sary of the killing in 2019

The Hindu Business Line - - NEWS - VIDYA RAM PTI

The Bri­tish gov­ern­ment has re­it­er­ated its past stance on the Jal­lian­walla Bagh Mas­sacre, fol­low­ing a call from Lon­don Mayor Sadiq Khan for a for­mal apol­ogy from the gov­ern­ment, ahead of the 100th an­niver­sary of the atroc­ity in 2019.

“As the former Bri­tish Prime Min­is­ter (David Cameron) said when he vis­ited Jalian­wala Bagh in 2013, the mas­sacre was a deeply shame­ful act in Bri­tish his­tory and one that we should never for­get,” said a spokesper­son for the For­eign and Com­mon­wealth Of­fice.

“It is right that we pay re­spect to those who lost their Lon­don Mayor Sadiq Khan lays a wreath at the mar­tyrs’ memo­rial dur­ing his visit to Jal­lian­wala Bagh, in Am­rit­sar on Wed­nes­day

lives and re­mem­ber what hap­pened. The Bri­tish gov­ern­ment rightly con­demned the events at the time.”

While on a visit to In­dia in 2013, Cameron had stopped short of a for­mal apol­ogy, and on re­turn­ing to Bri­tain he in­sisted

it would be wrong to “reach back into his­tory”.

While many in Bri­tain — not least within the siz­able In­dian di­as­pora — are deeply an­gry and ashamed about the mas­sacre, Bri­tain’s colo­nial past re­mains a con­tro­ver­sial is­sue, par­tic­u­larly around the Brexit ref­er­en­dum and hopes of re­viv­ing Bri­tain as a “great trad­ing nation”.

One se­nior Cabi­net mem­ber in­sisted in 2016 that “the UK is one of the few coun­tries in the EU that does not need to bury its 20th cen­tury his­tory.”

Labour MP Viren­dra Sharma had launched a pub­lic pe­ti­tion on the UK Par­lia­ment web­site ear­lier this year to call on the gov­ern­ment to is­sue a for­mal apol­ogy, which has so far at­tracted 1,793 sig­na­to­ries.

A to­tal of 29 MPs from across the po­lit­i­cal spec­trum have also signed an Early Day Mo­tion — a UK parliamentary mech­a­nism for MPs to draw at­ten­tion to an is­sue — call­ing for an apol­ogy ahead of the mas­sacre’s 100th an­niver­sary.

It also calls for the gov­ern­ment to en­sure Bri­tish chil­dren are taught about the “shame­ful pe­riod,” and to in­au­gu­rate a memo­rial day to mark the event.

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