British Prime Minister Theresa May on Wednesday expressed “deep regret” for the 1919 Jallianwala Bagh massacre, carried out by British colonial troops in India. “We deeply regret what happened and the suffering caused,” May told the British parliament on Wednesday.
“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,” she stated.
In response, Opposition Labour Party Leader Jeremy Corbyn demanded that those who lost their lives in the massacre deserve a “full, clear and unequivocal apology for what took place”.
May’s statement comes a day after British MPs at Westminster Hall of the Parliament complex debated the issue of a formal apology for the April 13, 1919 massacre to mark its centenary this Saturday.
Foreign Office Minister Mark Field had told MPs that he had been “compelled” by the arguments to raise the issue of going further than the “deepest regret” expressed over the killings during the British Raj.
The debate was tabled by Conservative Party MP Bob Blackman, who opened proceedings with a strong sentiment of “shame” as he called on the British government to apologise.
During a previous debate in the House of Lords earlier in the year, it was confirmed that UK foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt was “reflecting” on demands for a formal apology to mark the centenary of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre this week.
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.”
In wrapping up the outcomes of the debate, Blackman concluded that children in British schools should be taught about the tragedy because people should know what happened in Britain’s name and that “saying sorry – apologising for this massacre – is the right thing to do”.