CHANDIGARH: London Mayor Sadiq Khan who visited the Golden Temple on Wednesday said it was time for the British Government to apologise for the Jallianwala Bagh tragedy. However, he stopped short of making any official apology.
The massacre took place on April 13, 1919 when British troops commanded by Brigadier-General Reginald Dyer, opened fire at a crowd of unarmed people, on the harvest festival of Baisakhi.
Khan, who is of Pakistani-origin, paid tributes to the Jallianwala Bagh martyrs before crossing over to Lahore from the Attari-Wagah joint checkpoint.
In the visitor’s book at the Jallianwala Bagh, Khan wrote that the British Government should apologise for the 1919 tragedy. “It was incredibly moving to visit Jallianwala Bagh. The tragedy in 1919 on Baisakhi is one we must never forget. It is time for the British government to finally apologise. Our thoughts are with all those who died,” he wrote.
He also saw the well at the bagh, into which unarmed protestors along with pilgrims who had come for Baisakhi celebrations, jumped after the British troops began firing on them.
Significantly, former British Prime Minister David Cameron, during his 2013 visit to Jallianwala Bagh, also condemned the tragedy and described it as a “deeply shameful incident” in British history. However, he stopped short of making any official apology.
Wrapping up his first official tour to India, Khan also paid obeisance at the Golden Temple.
During his visit, he participated in langar (community kitchen) at the Golden Temple complex and showed keen interest in knowing how the food is prepared.
Khan was also presented with a robe of honour by officials of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee.
“It has been a privilege for me to be in Amritsar for the last 24 hours. The Golden Temple is a spiritual home for tens of thousands of Londoners of the Sikh faith and millions of Sikhs around the world come to Amritsar to pay their respects to worship,” he told reporters.
“The warmth, hospitality, spirituality are a lesson to us all. Thank you for providing me with memories that will stay with me forever,” he wrote in the visitors’ book of the Golden Temple.