London Mayor Sadiq Khan has said the British government should apologise for the Jallianwala Bagh incident. Khan, who is on a six-day mission to India and Pakistan to strengthen cultural and economic ties with London, was at Amritsar on Wednesday and visited Golden Temple and Jallianwala Bagh.
Talking to media after paying respects at Jallianwala Bagh memorial and garden, he made it clear that almost 100 years after the dreadful event, the British government should formally apologise for it. “It was important to me to come to Jallianwala Bagh. Indian Sikhs, Hindus, Muslims were peacefully protesting against the British government. In response to peaceful act, General Dyer and his soldiers closed the gate and open fire on men, women and children.”
He said: “I have seen the well myself where people fell and died. My theory is that British government should apologise for the errors done in the past. Some people use the world massacre for the incident and British government should apologise for it.” On Vaisakhi, April 13, 1919, soldiers of the British Indian army fired at more than 10,000 unarmed men, women and children who had gathered. In two years, it will be 100 years since the massacre.
In 2013, then British Prime Minister David Cameron had visited Jallianwala Bagh and described the Amritsar massacre as “a deeply shameful event in British history”. The UK-based Sikh Federation had also asked political parties to make it an election agenda to seek apology for Jallianwala Bagh in the recent general election held in Britain.
Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh was also in Amritsar on Wednesday to meet Khan. About Khan’s statement, he said: “I am very happy to hear it…. He is the Mayor of London. If he is saying that the British government should apologise, then it is a good thing.” During his tour of the Golden Temple, Khan met volunteers who were preparing food for the local community. He also went to the Baba Deep Singh shrine and the pool of nectar before going to Jallianwala Bagh.
The Mayor took the opportunity to reaffirm his commitment to working with London’s Sikh community to find a space in London to mark the contribution made by Sikhs who served during both World Wars. “More than 83,000 Sikhs died during World War I and World War II, and more than 100,000 were injured,” Khan said. “I want to make it clear that a memorial should take pride of place in London to honour those who served and died in the wars. Over the coming months, my office will establish a community board to drive plans forward and to find the best site for the memorial,” he added.
“Britain and the world owe a huge debt to the Sikh servicemen and women who fought alongside British troops during the First and Second World Wars. These brave individuals sacrificed an enormous amount to defend the freedoms that we enjoy today and it is only right that there is a memorial in our capital city to honour the Sikhs who fought to preserve our freedoms,” Khan said. “When I think of the Sikh community in London and the contribution they have made to the capital —- socially, culturally and economically —- I feel proud. Seva, or selfless service, is integral to Sikhism and this principle of charity and equality is something I deeply respect. It was an honour to visit the Golden Temple this morning and to see volunteers helping their local community,”