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

Vidya Ram London | Updated on January 09, 2018 Published on December 07, 2017

London Mayor Sadiq Khan lays a wreath at the martyrs’ memorial during his visit to Jallianwala Bagh, in Amritsar on Wednesday   -  PTI

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

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 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.

Published on December 07, 2017
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