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HindustanTimes Thu,17 Apr 2014

World

Jallianwala Bagh survivor praises the statesmanship of Cameron
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Melbourne, February 22, 2013
First Published: 15:08 IST(22/2/2013)
Last Updated: 15:11 IST(22/2/2013)

Bharpur Singh, a 98-year-old survivor of Jallianwala Bagh massacre, on Friday praised UK Prime Minister David Cameron for describing the incident as "deeply shameful" in British history.

"When I heard Cameron's statement I felt good and felt it as a good gesture. It shows the statesmanship of Britishers," said Singh, now a Melbourne resident.

Cameron this week described as "deeply shameful" the killing of peaceful protesters in Jallianwala Bagh in 1919 during British rule but stopped short of a public apology.

Writing in the visitor's book, Cameron said, "This was a deeply shameful act in British history. One that Winston Churchill rightly described at that time as monstrous..."

Singh said Cameron's visit and his message in the visitors book brought back memories of the massacre when he along with his grandfather and uncle attended the rally.

"I was four year old and had gone with my Grandfather and an Uncle to attend this peaceful rally," he recalled.

"When we heard gunshots, we ran to save our lives and jumped over mud huts that were on the southern side of the Bagh. In the incident my uncle broke his arm and we could not take him to hospital as there were fears of being arrested," he said.

There are many families who must be holding memories of Jallianwala and with British Prime Minister paying homage at the site it must have given some sense of peace.

"I still feel trauma... but such a gesture from the British dignitary is to be appreciated," Singh 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 REH Dyer had ordered 50 riflemen to shoot at the crowd.

Dyer kept the firing for about ten minutes, till the ammunition supply was almost exhausted with approximately 1,650 rounds fired that resulted in the killing of more than 1000 innocent Indians besides leaving more than 1100 injured.

Singh migrated to Australia way back in 1985 from Amritsar and is now a very active member of senior community club in western suburb of Melbourne.

He has been widely interviewed and has been a part of BBC documentary 'Gandhi- Rise to Fame'. Singh is a member of Indian Seniors association for the western suburbs of Melbourne.


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