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Government called on to apologise for Amritsar killings

Packed meeting highlights lack of justice for victims of 1919 massacre

CHRIS WILLIAMSON today condemned the “shameful” and “brutal” act of the British Army gunning down hundreds of Indian people in Amritsar and called for the government to apologise on the 100th anniversary of the murders.

The Derby North Labour MP chaired a parliamentary meeting of the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre 1919 Centenary Committee today, where he said that the serving Prime Minister next year should issue a “long overdue” apology.

On April 13 1919, British colonial troops led by General Dyer fired into a crowd of thousands of unarmed Indian protesters that were gathered in the walled Jallianwala Bagh public garden in Amritsar.

Up to 1,000 people were killed and more wounded.

Mr Williamson said that the government needs to “come to terms” with what happened and that the “stain” on the British empire’s history “must not be whitewashed.”

Slough Labour MP Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi praised the attendees – totalling around 200 – for turning out from many parts of the country in such large numbers.

He referred to Canadian President Justin Trudeau apologising in 2016 for the 1914 Komagata Maru incident, which saw a ship of Indian migrants being turned away from Canada.

British police had then fired at the passengers and ended up killing 20 of the 340 Indian passengers – who were all British subjects.

“I don’t know why our prime minister is not committing to an apology,” he added. “We can’t move on until we get one.”

Committee secretary Joginder Bains said: “It was an event that is still very present to us. It is not the past to us. The wounds are still very raw, they are not healed.

“The sheer presence in this room shows how important it is for us to get an apology.

“It’s our responsibility that we make sure that the British government apologises for it and for all their other crimes against Indian people.”

Ealing Southall Labour MP Virendra Sharma said that he had met PM Theresa May’s predecessor David Cameron and asked him why he could not apologise for the British Army’s killings.

He added: “We are not saying that the current government did it, we are just asking them to accept that it was wrong.”

More than three dozen MPs have supported the demand on the government to apologise by signing an early day motion started by Mr Sharma.

The committee is also calling for people to sign the petition.

 

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