United Kingdom sidesteps apology for Jallianwala Bagh massacre, instead says 'deeply shameful'


Mayor of London Sadiq Khan on Wednesday has called on the British government to make a "full and formal apology" to the people of India for the Jallianwala Bagh massacre almost 100 years ago. The tragedy in 1919 on Baisakhi is one we must never forget.

While visiting the memorial at Amritsar in the northern state of Punjab, the mayor wrote in the memorial visitors' book that it was "incredibly moving" to be at the site of the carnage, saying it would never be forgotten. "Although our two great countries now have a close relationship in business, culture, education and more, an apology from the British Government will go a long way in healing the wounds left by this very bad event".

Khan toured the Jallianwala Bagh complex and saw the Martyr's Well and bullet marks along the walls. "The British Government rightly condemned the events at the time". On Sunday 13 April 1919, during the celebration of Vaisakhi, 50 British Indian Army soldiers, commanded by Brigadier-General Reginald Dyer, began shooting at an unarmed gathering of civilians, who were taking part in a peaceful protest.

All the exits were blocked by the troops and protesters had nowhere to escape. Colonial era records had put the death toll at around 400, while leaders of India's freedom movement had put it at over 1,000.

Although he stopped short of offering a formal apology, Mr Cameron had described the massacre as "a deeply shameful event in British history".

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Though British monarch Queen Elizabeth and her husband Prince Phillip visited Jallianwala Bagh in October 1997, they did not offer an apology for the massacre.

Khan, later on Wednesday, visited the Golden Temple complex, where the holiest of Sikh shrines, Harmandir Sahib, is located and offered prayers.

Mr Khan was also presented with a Siropa (robe of honour) by the officials of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC).

Mr Khan also visited the Langar hall, the largest community kitchen in the world, of the shrine complex and partook langar while sitting on the floor. On Thursday he is in Islamabad and is scheduled to visit Karachi before he returns to London.