While the United Kingdom has never formally apologised for the Jallianwala Bagh massacre that killed 300 and wounded 1,200 people, the Archbishop of Canterbury Reverend Justin Welby on Tuesday visited Jallianwala Bagh memorial in Amritsar and apologised in personal capacity.
He prostrated himself before the memorial, saying he was “ashamed of the crime committed” there, according to NDTV. He also read out a prayer seeking God’s forgiveness for the terrible atrocity.
In the visitors’ book, according to PTI, Welby wrote, “It is deeply humbling and provokes feelings of profound shame to visit this place that witnessed such atrocities hundred years ago.”
“My first response is to pray for healing of relatives, of descendants, of our relationships with India and its wonderful people. But, that prayer renews in me a desire to pray and act so that together we may learn from history, root out hatred, promote reconciliation and globally seek the common good,” he wrote.
In a Facebook post, Welby said he had “no status to apologise on behalf of the UK, its government or its history. But I am personally very sorry for this terrible atrocity”.
The massacre took place at Jallianwala Bagh in Amritsar in April 1919 when troops under the command of Colonel Reginald Dyer opened fire at an unarmed crowd, which was peacefully protesting the arrest of nationalist leaders Satyapal and Saifuddin Kitchlew.
Earlier this year, at the 100th anniversary of the tragic incident, then British Prime Minister Theresa May described the incident as a “shameful scar” on British-Indian history, but fell short of a formal apology.
“The tragedy of Jallianwala Bagh of 1919 is a shameful scar on British Indian history. 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,” she...