A Canada-based NGO handed over a memorandum to UK government’s opposition Labour Party on April 28 in a bid to persuade the country to issue an “official apology” for the Jallianwala Bagh massacre, the Times of India reported.
Professor Mohan Singh Memorial Foundation president Sahib Thind, who handed over the memorandum to Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, said that they hope that the UK government would join other western nations by addressing historic injustices committed by them, the publication reported. Saying that the UK government’s principal opposition also backs the move, Thind added the United Kingdom should tender an apology in parliament for the massacre in Punjab in which nearly 1,000 people were killed on April 13, 1919.
The foundation has been working for 25 years with governments worldwide, seeking parliamentary apologies for historical wrongs committed by colonial powers and their proxies, Thind said.
It has pressurized the Canadian government to apologize for the Komagata Maru incident, when citizens of the British raj in 1914 attempting to emigrate to Canada on a Japanese steamship, Komagatu Maru, were denied entry into the country. They were forced to return to the then Calcutta, where they were fired upon by British troops, resulting in death of 20 Sikhs. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau apologized over the incident in the House of Commons on May 18, 2016.
This is not the first time the issue of apology for the Jallianwalah Bagh massacre has been brought up.
Other organizations such as Jallianwala Bagh Shaheed Parivar Samiti, whose president approached Thind for the drive, have also asked the UK government to tender unconditional apology for the massacre, the report added.
Last year, Sikh leader Bhai Amrik Singh asked Prime Minister Theresa May to make a full apology in parliament for the incident before its 100th anniversary. Singh made the demand during the three-day convention of the Sikh Federation UK at the Guru Nanak Gurdwara in the Wolverhampton in September. UK parliament member Virendra Sharma also tabled an Early Day Motion in October, asking the government to apologize, which garnered eight signatures, including one from the Conservative party.
Last year, when London mayor Sadiq Khan visited the national memorial in India, he asked the UK government to tender a “full and formal” apology for the incident. “We are working with our associate organisation in the UK to ensure the government there is able to begin the process for an apology for atrocities committed by the colonial regime in India, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka,” he had said at the time. Former British Prime Minister David Cameron , who visited the site in 2013, called the massacre a “a deeply shameful event in British history.”
Referring to Cameron’s visit, the UK foreign office issued a statement on Dec. 7, that stopped short of making an apology: “As the former Prime Minister said when he visited Jallianwala Bagh in 2013, the massacre was a deeply shameful act in British history and one that we should never forget. It is right that we pay respect to those who lost their lives and remember what happened. The British government rightly condemned the events at the time.”
More than 1,000 civilians who were protesting peacefully at the Jallianwala Bagh in Amritsar in Punjab were killed after the British-Indian Army opened fire on the crowd consisting of around 2,500 men, women and children on April 13, 1919.