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Saturday, Nov 23, 2019

‘Labour govt will apologise for Jallianwala massacre if voted to power’

cities Updated: Sep 24, 2019 00:56 IST
Hindustantimes
         

LONDON If the opposition Labour Party wins the next general election — likely to be held later this year to resolve the Brexit imbroglio — its government will tender a formal apology for the 1919 Jallianwala Bagh massacre in Amritsar, the party said on Monday.

Emily Thornberry, shadow foreign secretary, told the party’s annual conference in Brighton that the apology will be part of several such initiatives to correct historical wrongs. It will also hold an inquiry into the UK government’s role into the 1984 Operation Bluestar.

Thornberry, one of the senior-most leaders of the party, told party delegates: “We have committed to issue a formal apology for the first Amritsar massacre, and hold a public review into Britain’s role in the second.”

The British government has so far confined itself to expressing “deep regret” for the Amritsar massacre, but the Labour joined several demands in India and the UK that a formal apology should be tendered in its anniversary year in 2019.

The UK government’s role in Operation Bluestar emerged in 2014 when a declassified note released by National Archives suggested that SAS, Britain’s elite special forces, advised former prime minister Indira Gandhi on flushing out Sikh extremists from the Golden Temple, three months before the operation was launched in June 1984.

The then David Cameron government ordered an inquiry following an uproar, but it concluded that Britain’s involvement was ‘purely advisory’ and was ‘fundamentally different’ from that carried out by Indian security forces.

UK-based groups have since demanded a public inquiry into Britain’s role amid claims that more confidential documents on the issue were subsequently held back.

Thornberry also raised the issue of reported restrictions imposed in Jammu and Kashmir in the wake of New Delhi’s move to scrap Article 370 and fundamentally change its position in India’s federal structure.

She said: “How can it be that we a have a Commonwealth member, India, revoking 70 years of constitutional protections for the Kashmiri people?”

Thornberry has previously expressed the party’s concerns over alleged violation of human rights in the state, calling upon New Delhi to allow international monitors into the region.