As India marks the 100th anniversary of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre this year, Theresa May addressed the British parliament, "We deeply regret what happened and the suffering caused."
Calling Jallianwala Bagh tragedy a shameful scar on British Indian history, UK Prime Minister Theresa May on Wednesday conveyed “deep regret” for the massacre by British troops in India in 1919. However, May stopped short of issuing a formal apology for the massacre.
As India marks the 100th anniversary of the killings this year, May issued a statement saying, “We deeply regret what happened and the suffering caused.”
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“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,” May said in her statement.
Leader of the main opposition in the UK parliament, Labour Party Jeremy Corbyn appealed for “a full, clear and unequivocal apology”.
On April 13, 1919, British troops had opened fire on thousands of unarmed protesters in Jallianwala Bagh in Amritsar. As per the colonial-era records, nearly 400 people died in Punjab’s Amritsar when soldiers started firing on men, women and children who were in an enclosed area. However, as per Indian records, the estimated death toll was closer to 1,000.
Former British prime minister David Cameron had described the Jallianwala Bagh tragedy as “deeply shameful” during his India visit in the 2013. However, he also did not issue a formal apology.
The British PM’s statement comes a day after MP’s discussed whether the country should issue a formal apology for the massacre. The debate was tabled by Conservative MP Bob Blackman, who started proceedings by calling on the British government to apologise.
Indian-origin Labour MP Preet Kaur Gill said, “As we approach the 100th anniversary of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre in Amritsar on 13 April 1919, it is clear that there needs to be a formal apology from the United Kingdom government that accepts and acknowledges their part in the massacre.”
(With PTI Inputs)