A MOTION urging the United Kingdom (UK) government to formally apologise in the House of Commons over the 1919 Jallianwala Bagh Massacre has found support from 14 MPs in the British Parliament. On October 17, one of Britain’s senior-most Indian-origin MPs, Virendra Sharma, tabled a parliamentary motion, calling upon Prime Minister Theresa May to apologise for the Jallianwala Bagh massacre that took place in Amritsar during the British Raj in 1919. Sharma is a Labour Party MP for Ealing, Southall, in Britain.
On Thursday, Sharma’s office, in an email, informed Haryana Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ram Bilas Sharma that his Early Day Motion (EDM) titled ‘Jallianwala Bagh Massacre of 1919’ had attracted 13 additional signatures from British MPs so far. Ram Bilas Sharma had addressed the House of Commons on November 14, 2016. Ram Bilas Sharma told The Indian Express that Virendra Sharma was also present in the House during his speech.
“Virendra Sharma told me that he was inspired by my speech. A motion has been moved in the British Parliament over the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre,” said Ram Bilas Sharma, who also handles the education ministry in the Manohar Lal Khattar-led BJP Government. Virendra Sharma is the primary sponsor of the motion apart from five other sponsors (all MPs). Virendra Sharma is reportedly urging British parliamentarians across the political spectrum to come together to support his parliamentary motion pushing for a formal apology from the British government for the Jallianwala Bagh massacre.
The massacre took place in Jallianwala Bagh in Amritsar over Baisakhi in April 1919 when troops of the British Indian Army under the command of Colonel Reginald Dyer opened fire on a crowd of people holding a pro-independence demonstration. It left hundreds dead and many more injured. EDMs are formal motions tabled in the House of Commons as a means of drawing attention to a particular issue or cause. The EDM calls on the House of Commons to recognise the importance of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre as a turning point in the history of the British Empire in India.
The EDM notes that as the centenary of the incident was approaching, it would be appropriate to commemorate it. It also recognises that former UK prime minister David Cameron referred to the massacre as a “deeply shameful act” during a visit to India. It urges the government to ensure that “British children are taught about this shameful period and that modern British values welcome the right to peaceful protest.”