UK Govt Should Apologize for Jallianwala Bagh Massacre: London Mayor

“It was incredibly moving to visit Jallianwala Bagh," Sadiq Khan said.


The United Kingdom government should apologize for the 1919 Jallianwala Bagh massacre in India where hundreds of people died, London Mayor Sadiq Khan said when he went to pay homage to those killed in Amritsar on Dec. 6.

“It was incredibly moving to visit Jallianwala Bagh. Our thoughts are with all those who died,” Khan said.

Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh welcomed his comments, saying he was happy to know Khan’s feelings on the issue. The remark, coming from a British government functionary, was a positive sign, he said, adding that it would strengthen India-UK relations and assuage the pain of the Independence struggle, the Times of India reported.

Khan, who was on a three-city tour to India, said, “This is where both my grandparents and my parents were born and raised.” He acknowledged that he was in the country not only as the mayor of London, but also because of the personal importance the country held for him.

Khan is the first British mayor to lead a trade mission to both India and Pakistan. During his trade visit earlier this month, he had declared #LondonisOpen for foreign students and workers.

“I want to strengthen the links that exist between London and the great cities of India and Pakistan,” Khan said before the trip, Asian Voice reported. “I’m passionate about deepening the relationship we have across a wide range of areas – from trade and business to tourism, technology, education, sport, culture and the arts. I will also remind everyone I meet that London will always be a city full of opportunity and one that embraces people of different, nationalities, faiths and backgrounds. And that as the Mayor of London I am doing everything within my power to make London as warm, welcoming and accessible to Indian and Pakistani students, business people and entrepreneurs as possible.”

Khan also criticized the British government for its stand on visa norms, calling it a “big mistake”. He said: “On one hand the British government is asking Indian businesses to trade there, and on the other hand they have made it more hard (to enter the country).”

He added that he was lobbying so that the norms could be eased since he didn’t want talented Indians to go to Canada, Australia or the United States but come to London instead.

Khan has criticized U.S. President Donald Trump over his Muslim ban policy. Khan recently said that by sharing tweets from far-right groups, Trump showed “a betrayal of the special relationship” between the two countries. The tweet shared by Trump was of a Muslim “migrant” committing a crime. However, the Dutch embassy in the United States said that the person in question was born and raised in the Netherlands.

Meanwhile, Punjab MLAs submitted a memorandum to the mayor to start British Airways flights from London to Amritsar, which currently receives flights from only some international airlines. They said that for personal and business purposes many Punjabis, who are part of the diaspora community in London, travel to Amritsar, the city of the Golden Temple. Currently, they have to take a flight from Delhi or via Delhi to travel to London.

In Mumbai, Khan and Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis discussed issues of cooperation between Mumbai and London for public transport, medical tourism and other areas.

“Mumbai is already the financial capital of India but we wish to make it the ‘financial and technological hub of the world’,” Fadnavis tweeted.

Khan became the first British politician in a generation to make the land crossing from India to Pakistan. He went from Attari in India to Wagah in Pakistan.

“It’s been quite difficult to organize, I won’t pretend it’s not,” Khan said. “The advice we received from the Foreign Office and others was this is not what politicians do. Not in a generation can anybody remember a British politician doing both countries in one trip. Nobody could tell me of an example of a British politician crossing the border this way. But we’re Londoners, we’re pioneers.”

Khan is the first Muslim ethnic person to become the Mayor of London. He was born into a Sunni Muslim family, and represented the Labour Party from Tooting, South London. His grandparents moved from Bombay Presidency to Pakistan during the Partition of India and Pakistan. His parents went to the United Kingdom from Pakistan in the 1960s.

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