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It’s time Britain apologised for Jallianwala Bagh massacre, says London mayor

Sadiq Khan also visited the Golden Temple and paid obeisance at Harmandar Sahib.

punjab Updated: Dec 07, 2017 09:34 IST
Surjit Singh
Surjit Singh
Hindustan Times, Amritsar
London mayor,London mayor apologise for Jallianwala,Jallianwala Bagh massacre
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan paying tribute to martyrs at the Jallianwala Bagh in Amritsar on Wednesday.(Twitter)

London mayor Sadiq Khan said on Wednesday that it’s time the British government apologised for the Jallianwala Bagh massacre of April 13, 1919.

“It was incredibly moving to visit Jallianwala Bagh. The tragedy in 1919 on Baisakhi is one we must never forget. It is time for the British government to finally apologise. Our thoughts are with all those who died,” he wrote in the visitor book after paying floral tributes at the memorial. Later, he tweeted, “I’m calling on the UK Government to make a full and formal apology for the massacre.”

Khan went around the complex and saw the Shaheedi Khuh or the martyrs’ well besides the bullet marks on the walls surrounding the memorial that bear testimony to the machine gun firing by British Indian Army soldiers under the command of colonel Reginald Dyer into a crowd of peaceful protesters and Baisakhi pilgrims.

They had gathered at the public garden adjoining the Golden Temple to participate in the Baisakhi celebrations and also to condemn the arrest and deportation of freedom fighters Satya Pal and Dr Saifuddin Kitchlew.

The victims had no place to escape as the only narrow entrance was blocked by the soldiers. Colonial era records put the death toll at 379, while other sources, including leaders of the freedom movement, put it at more than 1,000.

Though British monarch, Queen Elizabeth, and her husband, Prince Phillip, visited Jallianwala Bagh in October 1997, no apology for the massacre was offered. Former British prime minister David Cameron also visited the memorial in February 2013 and offered regrets over the killings but stopped short of a formal apology.

DOES ‘SEWA’ AT GOLDEN TEMPLE

Khan also visited the Golden Temple and paid obeisance at Harmandar Sahib, the holiest of Sikh shrines.

The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee honoured him with a ‘siropa’ (robe of honour). He partook of the langar and also did sewa by cleaning utensils at the largest community kitchen.

London mayor Sadiq Khan helps prepare food in the community kitchen of the Golden Temple in Amritsar. (AFP)

“The Golden Temple, where millions come daily, is a place of spiritualism and brotherhood,” Khan said, praising the hospitality at the shrine.

The London mayor arrived in Amritsar on Tuesday evening after visiting Mumbai and Delhi. Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh hosted the dinner for him.

Khan, who has his roots in Pakistan, later crossed over to the neighbouring country from the Attari-Wagah joint check post, 30 km from here. He will be visiting Lahore, Karachi and Islamabad.

His grandparents migrated from Bombay to Pakistan in 1947, from where his family migrated to London in 1960.

First Published: Dec 06, 2017 13:30 IST