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Jallianwala Bagh massacre: Indian-origin British MPs to press UK to apologise

Both parliamentarians are part of the Jallianwala Bagh Centenary Commemoration Committee

punjab Updated: Aug 11, 2018 21:44 IST
Surjit Singh
Surjit Singh
Hindustan Times, Amritsar
Jallianwala Bagh massacre,Jallianwala Bagh,British MPs
Guides of the Partition Museum with the office-bearers of the Jallianwala Bagh Centenary Commemoration Committee (JBCCC) at the Partition Museum in Amritsar on Saturday. (Sameer Sehgal/HT)

Indian-origin British parliamentarians — Lord Meghnad Desai and Lord Raj Loomba — are ready to initiate debate in the House of Lords to press the UK parliament to apologise for the Jallianwala Bagh massacre in Amritsar in 1919.

Both are part of the Jallianwala Bagh Centenary Commemoration Committee (JBCCC). They announced this on Saturday at the Partition Museum in Town Hall here during the inauguration of an exhibition, ‘Punjab under Siege – the Jallianwala Bagh Centenary (1919–2019)’.

On April 13, 1919, around 50 troops of the British Indian Army, under the command of Colonel Reginald Dyer, fired rifles into a crowd of around 15,000 civilians who had gathered at Jallianwala Bagh near the Golden Temple to celebrate the harvest festival of Baisakhi and condemn the arrest and deportation of two national leaders, Satya Pal and Dr Saifuddin Kitchlew. The Indian National Congress estimated that more than 1,500 were injured, with around 1,000 dead. The coming year marks its centenary.

“Lord Desai and Lord Loomba along with other lords of the British parliament will make it possible for the UK to apologise for the brutality shown by its rulers in India,” said Manjit Singh GK, president of the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee and patron of the JBCCC.

JBCCC president Balbir Singh Kakar said: “In the first phase of the campaign, we will make the younger generation of both India and the UK aware of what happened with the Indians under the British rule. We will educate the people to prepare ground for a debate on the Jallianwala Bagh episode. Members of this committee will initiate debate in the UK parliament to persuade the country to apologise, which is our ultimate aim.”

Other members of committee include Lady Kishwar Desai, Navtej Singh Sarna, Virendra Sharma and Dr Rajinder Singh Chadha (patron-in-chief).

Meanwhile, members of The Arts and Cultural Heritage Trust (TAACHT) that set up the museum, Loomba Foundation and the International Punjab Forum announced their pledge to take the exhibition to venues across India and UK.

Accompanied by Desai and other committee members, except Sarna and Sharma, Loomba said: “The Indian community in England will gain a lot through this exhibition.” He also announced a special event at the House of Lords to commemorate the massacre.

First Published: Aug 11, 2018 21:43 IST