In Amritsar, London Mayor says time for British to apologise for Jallianwala

Narinder Nanu—AFP

Sadiq Khan, the first Asian-origin mayor of London, on Wednesday called on the United Kingdom government to formally apologise for the April 1919 Jallianwala Bagh massacre by British Indian Army soldiers.

He was quoted saying, "As someone whose grandparents were born in India, and whose parents moved to London from Pakistan, I feel a deep affinity for the subcontinent", said Khan.

Khan went around the Jallianwala Bagh complex and saw the Martyr's Well and the bullet marks on the walls.

"During my visit to this wonderful country and the Jallianwala Bagh memorial and gardens, I've heard how the scars of the massacre are still felt in Amritsar". The memorial was inaugurated in 1961 and serves as a way to remember those who died and were injured in the massacre. It is time for the British government to finally apologize.

Hundreds of Indians, including women, children and the elderly, were shot dead by British troops led by Brigadier General Reginald Dyer April 13, 1919. "We all know the history here", Mr Khan said during a media interaction.

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During a visit to the Jallianwala Bagh memorial and garden, the Mayor paid his respects to those who were killed there in 1919, and made it clear that, nearly 100 years on from the awful event, the British Government should formally apologise on behalf of the British politicians of the time. "Some people used the word massacre", the Mayor said. The chief minister said he heard Mr Khan's remarks on the Jallianwala incident and was happy to know about his feelings on the matter.

Reacting to his remarks, Singh tweeted, "I'm sure that such an act would, to some extent, assuage the wounds of Indians who suffered the turmoil of the struggle for independence".

The London Mayor, on his maiden visit to Amritsar, also paid tributes to those who died at the sprawling ground in the city. He also visited the Langar hall, the largest community kitchen in the world, in the shrine complex and partook "langar" sitting on the floor.

The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) gave Mr Khan a "siropa" (robe of honour) during the visit.

During a visit to the Golden Temple in Amritsar, the most important pilgrimage site of Sikhism, Khan called the massacre one of the most horrific events in Indian history.

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