In Jallianwala, Cameron may regret 1919 killings

In Jallianwala, Cameron may regret 1919 killings

British Prime Minister David Cameron’s scheduled visit to the holy city of Amritsar on Wednesday could turn out to be historical if he conveys his country’s regret for the massacre of innocent unarmed Indians, including several women and children, by British troops at Jallianwala Bagh on Baisakhi Day in 1919.

Amid mounting voices from Sikh organisations and various other quarters, there is a strong feeling, as also reported by some British newspapers, that a regret over the tragic incident may be forthcoming. Cameron, who will be the first ever elected head of the British government to pay obeisance at the highest Sikh shrine, the Golden Temple in Amritsar, is also scheduled to visit Jallianwala Bagh where the massacre took place.

Sources say, the British prime minister could also meet some families of the martyrs during his visit. In case Cameron prefers an apology, the least it would do is assuage long held hurt sentiments of Indians. It was 15 years ago that British titular head, Queen Elizabeth-II and Prince Phillips had visited Jallianwala Bagh. Then, it stirred a controversy when the prince reportedly gave a statement saying the tragedy was “vastly exaggerated”.

Ahead of Cameron’s visit, representatives of the Sikh community in the UK have submitted memoranda over the weeks, besides holding talks with the ruling Conservatives to take up a host of issues with the Indian government.

Meanwhile, the SGPC, the Sikh religious body managing majority of Sikh shrines across the country, has geared up to accord a warm welcome to Cameron. The British prime minister will also visit, along with a business delegation, a mill which produces Lal Qila brand of Basmati rice known to be popular in the UK.  A recent survey about different ethnicities and communities to have made Britain their home has placed the Sikhs in number one position, above Jews and Christians. The report said the Sikhs have the highest 82 percentage of owing houses among other communities.

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