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Sikh Leaders Seek Govt Apology for Jallianwala Bagh at UK Convention

The 15th three-day convention of Sikh Federation UK at the Guru Nanak Gurdwara in the Wolverhampton saw a turnout of more than 10,000 people over the weekend. The event, held at  Gurdwara Sedgley Street during Sept. 15-18, sought to highlight the endeavors of the organization.

In the keynote speech at the event, Sikh leader Bhai Amrik Singh asked Prime Minister Theresa May to make a full apology in parliament for the Jallianwala Bagh massacre before its 100th anniversary.

“While the words of David Cameron in 2013 when he visited Jallianwala Bagh were comforting they fell short of an apology for the shameful massacre of unarmed civilians in Amritsar on April 13, 1919,” Amrik Singh was quoted as saying in the Express and Star. “We will focus our efforts in the UK by gaining cross-party support to demand a full apology before the 100th anniversary from Theresa May, assuming she remains Prime Minister. We are confident of support from MPs as many know the massacre came within months of the end of the First World War where Sikhs made sacrifices in huge numbers for the freedom of Europe.”

On April 13,1919, hundreds of unarmed civilians were killed at Jallianwala Bagh in Amritsar by soldiers from the British Indian Army.

In 2013, when the then British Prime Minister David Cameron visited the site, he called the massacre a “a deeply shameful event in British history”.

The event put spotlight on what the federation has achieved in the last year and the area of focus for the next year, Gurjeet Singh said in a release. He added that the global Sikh community in key Commonwealth countries had drawn up plans to urge the British PM to make a full apology in parliament.

The organization is currently spearheading an ongoing campaign for an independent public inquiry into the involvement of the United Kingdom in the 1984 Sikh riots.

The convention was attended by both the new Sikh MPs elected to Westminster in June – Preet Kaur Gill, the first Sikh woman MP who is the Sandwell councilor and new Edgbaston MP, and Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi, the first turban-wearing Sikh MP in the country.

Wolverhampton MPs Pat McFadden and Eleanor Smith, former city MP Rob Marris also attended and spoke at the event.

Last week, around 140 MPs signed an open letter asking for inclusion of a separate Sikh ethnic tick box in the Census 2021.  The convention also talked about the plans that are being drawn to mobilize MPs from different political parties to act on significant issues of concern to the Sikh community.