Stating that Britain is suffering from “historical amnesia”, Congress MP and author Shashi Tharoor has reiterated that Britain should apologise for Jallianwala Bagh massacre and said such a gesture would have a “wonderfully cleansing effect”.
“If hundred year later, a member of the royal family, because everything was done in the name of the Crown, were to come to Jallianwala Bagh, to Amritsar and express remorse and contrition for that horror, and by extension all the horrors the 35 million people who died in famines and all the things that the British were responsible for during their rule, it would really be a tremendous gesture and would have a wonderfully cleansing effect. So yes, I think an apology would help,” said Tharoor in an interview to TRT World.
Describing why an apology would be a good idea, the MP from Kerala’s Thiruvananthapuram has cited the precedents set by Willy Brandt, the social democrat chancellor of Germany, and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau by tendering apologies to Poland and India, respectively.
“Britian is suffering from historical amnesia. Did you know you could do ‘A levels’ in this country in history and not even learn a line of colonial history ?… I find that bizarre.”
“An apology would be a very good idea. Some might say, “Well look, you know this happened a long time ago, why apologise now? But I’ll point to Willy Brandt, the social Democrat Chancellor of Germany, going on his knees in the Warsaw ghetto in apology to Poland even though he as a Social Democrat was innocent of all Nazi wrongdoings. I point to Justin Trudeau, the prime minister of Canada, who apologised in the Canadian parliament to the Indian people for an incident in which the Canadians had turned away a ship laden with Indian refugees who then met a terrible fate at the hands of the British, as well as on the high seas. They didn’t directly kill anybody and yet they felt there was an apology due. Britain has never apologised,” he stated.
Earlier, Tharoor had said suggested that a viable reparation formula for colonial exploitation by British would be difficult but added that an apology from the former coloniser would wash away in many ways the sense that there are wrongs that have not been acknowledged. He had raised the issue of reparation first when he spoke at Oxford on the proposition ‘Britain Owes Reparations to Her Former Colonies’ in 2015. The speech was well received and went viral on social media.
His book, ‘An Era of Darkness: The British Empire In India’ , elaborates in detail the nature of British rule in India and the variety of ways in which the British nearly destroyed India during its rule.