Chandigarh: , Feb 20, 2013 DHNS
Nearly a century after a thousand innocent, unarmed Indians were killed by British troops at Jallianwala Bagh in 1919, British Prime Minister David Cameron on Wednesday expressed deep regret over what he described as a “deeply shameful act in the British history.”
Cameron, who visited the massacre site in Amritsar, is the first democratically elected British premier to visit the spot and express condolence. Cameron’s condemnation of the barbaric act was explicit in his message scribbled in the visitors’ book before leaving the memorial.
Yet, some say the 46-year-old’s words fell short of an apology for want of the word “sorry” in the message, while others argue that the message was equally befitting, if not more. Those sympathetically disposed say a formal apology would have, anyway, been too late and too little, yet Cameron preferred not to make one.
He wrote: “This was a deeply shameful act in British history, one that Winston Churchill rightly described at that time as monstrous. We must never forget what happened here and we must ensure that the UK stands up for the right of peaceful protests around the world.”
Cameron, perhaps, inscribed the message, as he underlined the word “never.” Before that he knelt down and laid a wreath at the memorial to the massacre, a terracotta-coloured stone structure. He stood in silence with folded hands.
It was way back in 1997 that Queen Elizabeth II and her husband, Prince Philip, visited the memorial. The visit stirred a controversy following an arguably insensitive statement by Prince Philip who reportedly said the incident was “vastly exaggerated.”
Earlier, Cameron, flanked by Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, paid obeisance at the sacred Golden Temple. With his head covered in a blue robe, the British prime minister visited the “langar” (community kitchen) complex and even turned a few “rotis” on the giant pan.