India marks centenary of Jallianwala Bagh massacre

World Saturday 13/April/2019 15:39 PM
By: Times News Service
India marks centenary of Jallianwala Bagh massacre

New Delhi: India on Saturday marked the centenary of Jallianwala Bagh massacre, as British High Commissioner to India Sir Dominic Asquith described the tragedy as "shameful act in British-Indian history."

Hundreds of Indians were shot dead by British troops 100 years ago on this day in Amritsar city in northern Indian state of Punjab.

To commemorate the event on the 100th anniversary, Asquith paid his tribute and laid a floral wreath at the memorial in Amritsar.

"The events of Jallianwala Bagh 100 years ago today reflects a shameful act in British-Indian history. We deeply regret what happened and the suffering caused. I am pleased today that the UK and India have and remain committed to developing further a thriving 21st century partnership," Asquith wrote on visitor's book at the memorial.

There have been calls for Britain to apologise for the massacre.

British Prime Minister Theresa May in parliament this week described the events as "a shameful scar on British Indian history." However, she stopped short of issuing a formal apology for the tragic incident.

Jallianwala Bagh massacre took place on 13 April 1919 when British forces led by Brigadier General Reginald Dyer opened fire on hundreds of unarmed, innocent Indians, including women and children, who were protesting peacefully against the Rowlatt Act of the British government.

The massacre is known as one of the darkest chapters of India's freedom struggle against the British occupation.

The official death toll in the massacre by the British government was 379, however Indian claims the firing left over 1,000 people dead.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi took to twitter to remember those who lost their lives in the massacre.

"Today, when we observe 100 years of the horrific Jallianwala Bagh massacre, India pays tributes to all those martyred on that fateful day. Their valour and sacrifice will never be forgotten. Their memory inspires us to work even harder to build an India they would be proud of," Modi said.

India's main opposition Congress party president Rahul Gandhi and Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh visited the memorial at Jallianwala Bagh and paid homage to those killed in the massacre.

On Friday evening hundreds of people, including students and visitors, held a candlelight vigil in Amritsar on the eve of the 100th anniversary.

Indian Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu will release a commemorative coin and a commemorative postage stamp to mark the centenary of the massacre.

"Hundred years ago, General Reginald Dyer's troops opened fire on unarmed, peaceful protesters at Jallianwala Bagh in Amritsar leaving hundreds dead and thousands wounded. This inhuman act of imperial might remains an indelible bloody stain on the canvas of recent Indian history," Naidu in his tribute said.

"We have to usher in a world without oppression and persecution, a world of friendship, peace and progress. A world where all nations stand united to defeat inhuman forces of terror and violence. It is a day to reaffirm India's centuries long commitment to ideal of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam (the world is one family)."

Though many British leaders have regretted the incident, a formal apology has yet to be made.