'Shameful act in British-Indian history': United Kingdom envoy on Jallianwala Bagh massacre

A young visitor looks at a painting depicting the Amritsar Massare at Jallianwala Bagh in Amritsar on Feb. 4 2010

Former British Prime Minister David Cameron described the killings as "deeply shameful" in a visit to the northern Indian city in 2013 but stopped short of an apology.

"There are events in the histories of nations which are hard to forget and they hold a very emotionally charged space in a nation's memory", Navtej Sarna, a Sikh who has served as India's High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, told Reuters.

He said his country regrets "the suffering caused" and "the revulsion that we felt at the time is still strong today".

Today marks the 100th anniversary of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre, one of the worst atrocities of British colonial rule for which London has yet to apologise. In the year 1919, thousands of people were killed in this massacre in Amritsar, but only 379 murders were reported in the figures of the British Government. As her Majesty, the Queen said before visiting Jallianwala Bagh 1997, it is a distressing example of our past history with India.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi also took to Twitter to pay his tributes to the fallen on the centenary of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre.

In the memorial's guest book Asquith, a descendant of Herbert Asquith, prime minister from 1908-16, called the events "shameful".

The Theresa May government has reiterated the expression of "deep regret" over the massacre, but not an apology as demanded by the opposition Labour and others.

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Many dignitaries during the remembrance, including Congress President Rahul Gandhi, Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh, and Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu, reached the memorial and remembered the martyrs. They observed a two-minute silence at the site, PTI reported.

Amritsar's Jallianwala Bagh was a desolate piece of land partly used for dumping garbage. The demonstration was held to demand the release of two popular leaders of the Indian Independence Movement, Satya Paul and Saifuddin Kitchlew, who had been earlier arrested on account of their protests.

Brig Gen Reginald Edward Harry Dyer arrived with dozens of troops, sealed off the exit and without warning ordered the soldiers to open fire.

Many tried to escape by scaling the high walls surrounding the area.

It was later stated that 1,650 bullets had been fired (derived by counting empty cartridge cases picked up by the troops). "I shall never forget the sight", said Ratan Devi, whose husband was killed.

Dyer, dubbed "the butcher of Amritsar", reportedly said later it was a necessary measure, and that the firing was "not to disperse the meeting but to punish the Indians for disobedience". And the calls for an apology continue.

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