Independence Day: UK owes an apology to India for Jallianwala Bagh massacre

Chennabasaveshwar

New Delhi, Aug 11: 'So many people who knew the condition of Amritsar say I did right...but so many others say I did wrong. I only want to die and know from my Maker whether I did right or wrong': These are the last words of General Reginald Dyer (Collett, Nigel, 2006, The Butcher of Amritsar: General Reginald Dyer).

General Dyer is known for infamous orders that he gave on 13 April 1919 at Jallianwala Bagh in Amritsar. Around 50 troops of the British Indian Army, under the command of General Reginald Dyer, fired rifles into a crowd of around 15,000 civilians who had gathered to celebrate the harvest festival of Baisakhi and condemn the arrest and deportation of two national leaders, Satya Pal and Dr Saifuddin Kitchlew.

According to reports, a total of 1,650 rounds were fired by the soldiers in a span of 10 minutes on the unarmed crowd, which was not given any prior warning to disperse.

Dyer-without warning the crowd to disperse-blocked the main exits. He 'explained' later that this act "was not to disperse the meeting but to punish the Indians for disobedience. Many people died in stampedes at the narrow gates or by jumping into the solitary well on the compound to escape the shooting. A plaque, placed at the site after independence states that 120 bodies were removed from the well. The Indian National Congress estimated that more than 1,500 were injured, with around 1,000 dead.

The Massacre marks one of the darkest moment in Indian history. The United Kingdom parliament still owes an apology to India for the Jallianwala Bagh massacre.

On 14 October 1997, Queen Elizabeth II visited Jallianwala Bagh and paid her respects with a 30‑second moment of silence. She removed her shoes while visiting the monument and laid a wreath at the monument.

While some Indians welcomed the expression of regret and sadness in the Queen's statement, others criticised it for being less than an apology. In February 2013 David Cameron became the first serving British Prime Minister to visit the site, laid a wreath at the memorial, and described the Amritsar massacre as "a deeply shameful event in British history, but Cameron did not deliver an official apology.

As per Hindustan Times reports, 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. Both are part of the Jallianwala Bagh Centenary Commemoration Committee (JBCCC)

99th anniversary of Jallianwala Bagh massacre

Police personnel pay tributes to the martyrs during a ceremony at Baiskahi and 99th anniversary of Jallianwala Bagh massacre, at Jallianwala Bagh in Amritsar. PTI Photo

Jallianwala Bagh Memorial

Visitors walk in front of the Jallianwala Bagh Memorial in Amritsar. The Jallianwala Bagh massacre, which took place on April 13, 1919, the Baisakhi day, after Brigadier-General Reginald Edward Harry Dyer ordered 50 British Indian Army soldiers to open fire on a crowd gathered at Jallianwala Bagh. The Massacre marks one of the darkest moment in Indian history. PTI Photo

The martyrs' well

The martyrs' well at Jallianwala Bagh in Amritsar. PTI photo

Bullet marks

Visitors look at the bullet marks of the infamous Jallianwala Bagh massacre. PTI photo

Museum at the Jallianwala Bagh Memorial

People click selfie with a painting, depicting the Jallianwala Bagh massacre, installed in the museum at the Jallianwala Bagh Memorial, in Amritsar. PTI photo

Statue of Shaheed Udham Singh

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh unveils a 10-foot marble statue of Shaheed Udham Singh at Jallianwala Bagh in Amritsar. On March 13, 1940, Udham Singh assassinated Michael O' Dwyer the then lieutenant governor of Punjab to avenge the infamous Jallianghwala Bagh massacre at Caxton Hall in London. PTI Photo

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Independence Day: UK owes an apology to India for Jallianwala Bagh massacre