May 9, 2019 7:49:05 pm
At a Vaisakhi reception at Downing Street in London, UK Prime Minister Theresa May reiterated the government’s deep regret over the Jallianwala Bagh massacre while stopping short of issuing a formal apology. The statement is in line with Britain’s position since the mid-1990s of expressing ‘deep regret’ for the April 13, 1919 tragedy.
“We deeply regret what happened and the pain inflicted on so many people. No one who has heard the accounts of what happened that day can fail to be deeply moved. No one can truly imagine what the visitors to those gardens went through that day one hundred years ago,” Theresa May told a gathering of the Indian diaspora.
May called the incident one of the worst outrages in the whole of UK history. “It was, as the former prime minister HH Asquith described it at the time ‘one of the worst outrages in the whole of our history’,” she said.
Last month, in a statement marking the 100th anniversary of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre, May had called the tragedy a shameful scar on British Indian history.
“The tragedy of Jallianwala Bagh of 1919 is a shameful scar on British Indian history. As Her Majesty the Queen (Elizabeth II) said before visiting Jallianwala Bagh in 1997, it is a distressing example of our past history with India,” she had said.
The massacre took place at Jallianwala Bagh in Amritsar during the Vaisakhi festival on April 13, 1919, when troops of the British Indian Army under the command of Colonel Reginald Dyer opened fire at a crowd of people holding a pro-independence demonstration, leaving scores dead.
Most recently, during a Westminster Hall debate in the House of Commons to mark National Sikh History Awareness Month, a number of British Indian MPs had repeated calls for a formal apology and expressed the hope that perhaps the Downing Street reception would be the appropriate moment for it.
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