Theresa 'regrets' Jallianwala Bagh amid apology demand

Theresa 'regrets' Jallianwala Bagh amid apology demand

It was two Kerala MPs -- CPI(M)'s M B Rajesh and Congress' Shashi Tharoor, who raised the demand for an apology from the British government.

Pressure from MPs in Britain prompted Prime Minister Theresa May to "regret" the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre on Wednesday and a demand for an apology from India's coloniser resonated in Lok Sabha on the last day of its session this February.

It was two Kerala MPs -- CPI(M)'s M B Rajesh and Congress' Shashi Tharoor whose houses and constituencies are at least 3,100 km away from Jallianwala Bagh, close to Golden Temple -- who raised the demand for an apology from the British government over the massacre on 13 April 1919.

The demand came during a discussion on the Jallianwala Bagh National Memorial Amendment Bill, which was aimed at removing the Congress president the Trust that handles the affairs of Jallianwala Bagh memorial, on the last day of this Lok Sabha's session.

"The true lesson of Jallianwala Bagh is anti-imperialism, the secular unity of our country and protection of democratic values. The BJP government who talks about nationalism and all did not take any steps to pressurise Britain to do so. Now, the British MPs have forced the government to do so. That tells a story," Rajesh told DH.

Tharoor was not satisfied with regret and reiterated his demand for an apology. "A genuine apology, teaching unvarnished colonial history in British schools as part of an honest history curriculum and establishing a museum to colonialism, would together constitute serious atonement. When a wrong has been done in your name, 'I'm sorry' goes a long way," he tweeted.

Rajesh, who had regularly raised the issue of fund crunch in the memorial as well as the stoppage of light and sound show, said, "I rise to demand that the House should adopt a unanimous resolution seeking an apology from the British for this massacre."

His demand came as he elaborated on how freedom fighter Uddham Singh avenged the massacre by killing Gen Dyer, who was celebrated by the Britishers then.

"Udham Singh kept this revenge for two decades and he went to London and he avenged the Jallianwala Bagh massacre on General Dyer. When he was produced before the court, the judge asked: 'What is your name?'. Udham Singh replied: 'My name is Ram Mohammad Singh'. That was the spirit of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre," he had said.

"That was the spirit of martyrdom because the blood of Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs and all was spilt on the soil of Jallianwala Bagh. That is the true lesson of Jallianwala Bagh," Rajesh, who was born in Jalandhar as his army man father was posted there, said.

Tharoor then said that he felt "very sad" that one is "looking at the politicisation by the ruling party (BJP) of this great tragic event in our national history" and this should "have been a time when the House should stand up unanimously and demand an apology" from the British on the centenary of this tragedy.