© Hindustan Times / Getty
London Mayor Sadiq Khan has called on the government to apologize for a colonial-era mass shooting against the Sikh community in India. Hundreds were killed by British soldiers in the 1919 atrocity.
British Indian soldiers opened fire on thousands of protesters as they peacefully demonstrated against the oppressive colonial rule in the Punjab. The mass shooting – known as the Jallianwala Bagh massacre, and which took place on April 13, 1919 – killed 379 people.
While visiting the memorial at Amritsar in the northern state of Punjab, the mayor wrote in the memorial visitors’ book that it was “incredibly moving” to be at the site of the carnage, saying it would never be forgotten.
“It is time for the British government to finally apologise,” wrote Mr. Khan. “Our thoughts are with all those who died,” he wrote.
He then laid a wreath and said: “It is wrong that successive British governments have fallen short of delivering a formal apology to the families of those who were killed,” Reuters reports.
“I’m clear that the government should now apologise, especially as we reach the centenary of the massacre.
“This is about properly acknowledging what happened here and giving the people of Amritsar and India the closure they need through a formal apology.”
Former Prime Minister David Cameron had visited Amritsar, home to the famous Sikh Golden Temple, at the end of a trade mission back iASn 2013. It was seen as an attempt to show Britain’s remorse over the atrocity. The ex-Tory leader, however, fell short of giving an apology.
The British Foreign Office said in a statement: “As the former Prime Minister said when he visited the Jallianwala Bagh in 2013, the massacre was a deeply shameful act in British history and one that we should never forget.
“It is right that we pay respect to those who lost their lives and remember what happened. The British Government rightly condemned the events at the time.”