Shashi Tharoor wants British PM to apologise for Jallianwala Bagh massacre

"You cannot quantify the wrongs done. What is far more important than financial reparation would be an apology," said Tharoor.

By: PTI | New Delhi | Updated: November 3, 2016 8:23 pm
Shashi Tharoor, Jallianwala Bagh, British Prime Minister, British colonial rule, British reparations to india, British apology to India, Jallianwala Bagh cetenery, Shashi Tharoor Oxford speech, Shashi Tharoor new book, Shashi Tharoor speech on reparations, Indian news, Indian Express Congress Leader Shashi Tharoor. (File Photo)

A viable reparation formula for colonial exploitation by British is difficult but a British Prime Minister “bending on knees” asking forgiveness on the centenary of Jallianwala Bagh massacre will wash away in many ways the sense that there are wrongs that have not been acknowledged, feels Congress leader Shashi Tharoor.

WATCH VIDEO: Shashi Tharoor Talks About British Colonialism In India In His New Book ‘An Era Of Darkness’

 

The issue of reparation came into limelight after Tharoor spoke at Oxford on the proposition ‘Britain Owes Reparations to Her Former Colonies’ last year and his speech went viral on social media and was hailed by fans and critics alike. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had congratulated him for having said “the right things at the right place”. And now he has come out with a book ‘An Era of Darkness: The British Empire In India’ which discusses, in depth, the variety of ways in which the British nearly destroyed India during the heyday of the Empire.

“You cannot quantify the wrongs done. What is far more important than financial reparation would be an apology. People who are not responsible today for the wrongs done by their forebearers in the past era apologise nonetheless to people who are not the ones to whom wrong was done. But it is in a sense an entire society apologising to entire people,” Tharoor, MP from Thiruvananthapuram, told PTI in an interview.

According to him, a viable reparation formula is difficult as a just sum would not be payable and a payable sum would not be just.

Citing two examples of Willy Brandt, the German social democrat leader who was in no way related to the crimes of the Nazis, going on his knees at Warsaw ghetto and apologising, and more recently Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau apologising for the Komagata Maru incident though Canada did not actually kill anybody, he says these offer a model in the Indian context too.

“These two apologies offer a model for a future British Prime Minister on the centenary of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre to come to that site, bend his or her knees and beg forgiveness for all sins committed in the past.

“That I think will wash away in many ways the sense that there are wrongs that have not been acknowledged,” the former Minister of State for External Affairs said.

In the book, he also writes, “David Cameron’s rather mealy-mouthed description of the massacre in 2013 as a ‘deeply shameful event’ does not, in my view, constitute an apology.

“Nor does the ceremonial visit to the site in 1997 by Queen Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh, who merely left their signatures in the visitors’ book, without even a redeeming comment.

“Whoever the PM is on the centenary of that awful crime will not have been alive when the atrocity was committed, and certainly no British government of 2019 bears a shred of responsibility for that tragedy, but as a symbol of the nation that once allowed it to happen, the PM could atone for the
past sins of his or her nation,” Tharoor said.

The Jallianwala Bagh massacre had taken place in Amritsar on April 13, 1919. On hearing that a meeting of nearly 20,000 people was taking place at Jallianwala Bagh, Brigadier General R E H Dyer had ordered 50 riflemen to shoot at the crowd. More than 1000 innocent Indians were killed and
over 1,100 injured.

Tharoor, however, feels reparation is a bit of red herring.

“I got into that debate because that happened to be the topic of the debate at Oxford that I was invited to.

“It is not necessarily the principal theme that I would have chosen for the debate and is certainly not the principal theme of my book because it actually concludes in the brief discussion on reparation issue that almost any amount that would do justice to crimes and losses suffered would be unpayable.”

He said his speech at Oxford was inspired by decades of reading and passion about engagements with history and based on what he thought he knew.

On three most unpardonable things of the British, he names economic exploitation and ruination of India on the basis of which the colonial rulers built up their own property; cruelties and exaltation and glorification of those who perpetrated these; and racism and discrimination.

He said his book, published by Aleph, is written as an argument and it is not a narrative history or a dry scholarly work.

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  1. C
    Chandu Shah
    Nov 2, 2016 at 11:35 am
    Did you just wake up Tharoor
    Reply
    1. S
      Sudhip Kumar
      Nov 2, 2016 at 1:28 pm
      Why not Congress apologise for Sikh, Pundits and all the riots UPA created??
      Reply
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        Arun
        Nov 2, 2016 at 7:36 pm
        Shashi forgets, or does not wish to say what Queen Elizabeth's husband prince Philip did at Jallianwallah Baug. Far from apologizing, he claimed that Indians were exaggerating the number of dead at Jallianwallan Baug. The British are in denial of what they did in India. But the thing they really need to apologize for is their role in Kashmir. They stopped the Kashmir war in 1947-48 by using Edwina on Nehru because they had British soldiers in stan. While it wouldn't be prudent for Shashi to write that, it is the truth.
        Reply
        1. R
          Raj
          Nov 2, 2016 at 3:10 pm
          One of my favourite politicians, articulate and smart. However, I think history is past us, Britain did wrong, but that is history! Today, we're close friends and Britain is a well wisher! We all speak English, those who look back again and again do not move forward as quickly. Forget the past, today, India and England are good friends with great potential.
          Reply
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            samsonaseervatham
            Nov 2, 2016 at 5:15 pm
            First he must be qualified to criticize others .He is a disgrace to Indian Politics
            Reply
            1. C
              C.P.Jain
              Nov 3, 2016 at 12:09 am
              Why only for Jalian Wala Bagh?. Why not in totality for their brutality, all over India ( includig stan and Bangladesh)
              Reply
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                Colonel Tyagi
                Nov 3, 2016 at 1:25 am
                mr. wife beater and killer tharoor, how about asking your masters sonia and ra-owl to apologize for the 1984 riots, quit politics, wind-up congress party as per the wishes of Mahatma hi and pack-up and leave for Italy. Indians drove the British out 60 years ago for the attrocities, its time to do the same for the italians masquerading as Indians.
                Reply
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                  Colonel Tyagi
                  Nov 3, 2016 at 1:22 am
                  mr. wife killer tharoor, how about asking your masters sonia and ra-owl to apologize for the 1984 riots, quit politics, wind-up congress party as per the wishes of Mahatma hi and pack-up and leave for Italy.
                  Reply
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