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Lack of formal apology casts shadow over Jallianwala Bagh event in UK

Press Trust of India  |  London 

The failure of the to tender a formal apology on the centenary of the massacre was the overwhelming focus of a commemorative event held at the complex in on Saturday.

The massacre took place at in during the festival on April 13, 1919, when troops of the under the command of opened fire at a crowd of people holding a pro-independence demonstration, leaving scores dead.

Indian-origin peers Lord and Lord were joined by fellow members of the Centenary Commemoration Committee (JBCCC) to wrap up a series of events and exhibitions held in the UK to mark

"The of April 13, 1919, stands out as a very tragic event in history. Hundred years since then, has come a long way and this why we have heard various mutterings of regret because ultimately is now a power to reckon with," said Lord Desai.

"I do not understand why the has not to this day agreed to say sorry," said Lord Loomba, who also called for an investigation into whether Dyer instigated the "huge atrocity" of his own accord or was following orders from higher authorities during the British Raj.

The commemorative event included a screening of a short clip from Richard Attenborough's 1982 epic 'Gandhi', re-enacting the fateful day. Unofficial estimates put the death toll into thousands, with the incident being described as a turning point in the

"The remains etched in the memory of Punjabi people. An apology will not bring back the dead or give any real comfort to their family and friends. However, it will help to mitigate the and bring closure to us all," said Manjit Singh GK, Patron-in-Chief of the JBCCC.

"An apology cannot undo what has been done but it would be a befitting tribute to the martyrs of the We on behalf of the JBCCC, strongly demand that the tender an official apology," said Vikramjit Singh Sahney, Patron of JBCC.

"and do not have prescribed end dates. It is time to recognise that and for the to ask for forgiveness with an unreserved apology," added Balbir Singh Kakar.

Earlier this week, British had expressed deep regret over the tragedy in a statement in the to mark the 100th anniversary of the tragedy, which she described as a "shameful scar" on British Indian history. However, the government has been criticised for not going far enough to make a formal apology, with the Opposition demanding a "full, clear and unequivocal apology".

"The Jallianwala Bagh massacre shook the very soul of a nation. It will be a long while before it fades away. History will keep reminding successive future generations about it," Indian High to the UK Ruchi Ghanashyam said in her address at the event.

Indian-origin peer, Lord Jitesh Gadhia, stressed the importance of the tragedy forming part of a compulsory "and all" colonial history curriculum to be taught across all British schools.

The programme in the complex marked a culmination of events being held across the UK to mark the centenary of the massacre.

The events included an exhibition titled 'Jallianwala Bagh 1919: under Siege' at in partnership with Museum, and a number of book launches on the subject historian Kim Wagner's Jallianwala Bagh', Saurav Dutt's Garden of Bullets' and Anita Anand's The Patient Assassin' tracing the lead up to the massacre as well as its aftermath.

British Indian also added to the widespread calls for an apology as part of a critically-acclaimed documentary, The Massacre that Shook the Empire', aired in the UK on Saturday night.

The issue also found prominence in the UK parliamentary agenda in recent months, as both the and Commons held debates in the lead up to the anniversary.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Sun, April 14 2019. 15:35 IST