In­dian­ori­gin British MPs to press UK to apol­o­gise

Hindustan Times (Amritsar) - - Punjab - Sur­jit Singh sur­jit.singh@hin­dus­tan­times.com

AM­RIT­SAR: In­dian-ori­gin British par­lia­men­tar­i­ans — Lord Megh­nad De­sai and Lord Raj Loomba — are ready to ini­ti­ate de­bate in the House of Lords to press the UK par­lia­ment to apol­o­gise for the Jal­lian­wala Bagh mas­sacre in Am­rit­sar in 1919.

Both are part of the Jal­lian­wala Bagh Cen­te­nary Com­mem­o­ra­tion Com­mit­tee (JBCCC) an­nounced on Satur­day at the Par­ti­tion Mu­seum in Town Hall here dur­ing the in­au­gu­ra­tion of an ex­hi­bi­tion, ‘Pun­jab un­der Siege – the Jal­lian­wala Bagh Cen­te­nary (1919–2019)’.

On April 13, 1919, around 50 troops of the British In­dian Army, un­der the com­mand of Colonel Reginald Dyer, fired ri­fles into a crowd of around 15,000 civil­ians who had gath­ered at Jal­lian­wala Bagh near the Golden Tem­ple to cel­e­brate the har­vest fes­ti­val of Baisakhi and con­demn the ar­rest and de­por­ta­tion of two na­tional lead­ers, Satya Pal and Dr Sai­fud­din Kitch­lew. The In­dian Na­tional Congress es­ti­mated that more than 1,500 were in­jured, with around 1,000 dead. The com­ing year marks its cen­te­nary.

“Lord De­sai and Lord Loomba along with other lords of the British par­lia­ment will make it pos­si­ble for the UK to apol­o­gise for the bru­tal­ity shown by its rulers in In­dia,” said Man­jit Singh GK, pres­i­dent of the Delhi Sikh Gur­d­wara Man­age­ment Com­mit­tee and pa­tron of the JBCCC.

JBCCC pres­i­dent Bal­bir Singh Kakar said: “In the first phase of the cam­paign, we will make the younger gen­er­a­tion of both In­dia and the UK aware of what hap­pened with the In­di­ans un­der the British rule. We will ed­u­cate the peo­ple to pre­pare ground for a de­bate on the Jal­lian­wala Bagh episode. Mem­bers of this com­mit­tee will ini­ti­ate de­bate in the UK par­lia­ment to per­suade the coun­try to apol­o­gise, which is our ul­ti­mate aim.”

Other mem­bers of com­mit­tee in­clude Lady Kish­war De­sai, Navtej Singh Sarna, Viren­dra Sharma and Dr Ra­jin­der Singh Chadha (pa­tron-in-chief).

Mean­while, mem­bers of The Arts and Cul­tural Her­itage Trust (TAACHT) that set up the mu­seum, Loomba Foun­da­tion and the In­ter­na­tional Pun­jab Fo­rum an­nounced their pledge to take the ex­hi­bi­tion to venues across In­dia and UK.

Ac­com­pa­nied by De­sai and other com­mit­tee mem­bers, Loomba said: “The In­dian com­mu­nity in Eng­land will gain a lot through this ex­hi­bi­tion.” He also an­nounced a spe­cial event at the House of Lords to com­mem­o­rate the mas­sacre.

(From left) Delhi Sikh Gur­d­wara Man­age­ment Com­mit­tee pres­i­dent Man­jit Singh GK, UK House of■Lords mem­ber Raj Loomba and other mem­bers of the Jal­lian­wala Bagh Cen­te­nary Com­mem­o­ra­tion Com­mit­tee at the Par­ti­tion Mu­seum in Am­rit­sar on Satur­day. SAMEER SE­H­GAL/HT

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