Demanding apology from Britain over the Jallianwala Bagh massacre, which completes 100th year on Saturday, descendants of some of those killed have said mere regret would not do. The massacre took place in Jallianwala Bagh in Amritsar over Baisakhi in April 1919 when troops of the British Indian Army under the command of General Reginald Dyer fired indiscriminately at a crowd holding a pro-independence demonstration, leaving hundreds of people dead.
British Prime Minister Theresa May on Wednesday described the massacre as a “shameful scar” on British Indian history but she stopped short of a formal apology, reiterating the “regret” already expressed by the British government. “My mama-ji (maternal uncle) Mela Ram was martyred at the age of 18 in the massacre,” said 86-year-old Krishana Chohan, recounting how she grew up hearing tales about the incident.
“When the troops started indiscriminate firing on the peaceful gathering, everybody panicked, people started running helter-skelter without having any understating where to go. It was plain ground and there was only one exit, which was a narrow lane. As a result, there was a stampede and many fell upon each other and some fell inside the well in the ground,” she told PTI. She said her uncle was one of those who fell inside the well.
“His body bore bullet marks, I was told. Some freedom fighters who were addressing the gathering were also found dead,” she said. Chohan said the British government should apologise for the incident and a mere regret would not do. Mahesh Behl, 73, recalled the killing of his grandfather Lala Hari Ram, an advocate, in the massacre.
“British government still hasn’t offered apology over the carnage,” Behl said. He lamented that descendants like him even did not get the due honour from the central or the state governments. “A few years back, the Punjab government gave us freedom fighter card, but nobody recognises this card. Even the card is rejected at toll plazas. Our children didn’t get any reservation on the basis of this card in any educational institution,” he rued.
“Today after 100 years of the incident, the administration approached us to invite for the candle light march being organised by the state government on the centenary eve,” he added.
Legislator and Punjabi Ekta Party chief Sukhpal Singh Khaira said thousands of Punjabis had sacrificed their lives for the freedom of the country and the massacre in Jallianwala Bagh is an unforgettable tragedy. He said the Jallianwala Bagh memorial was a neglected place and reflects apathy of state and central governments. He also demanded apology from the British government for the massacre.