British PM expresses regret for 1919 Jallianwala Bagh massacre

Bhandari bridge in Amritsar

A view of Bhandari bridge in Amritsar

The Amritsar Police have imposed Section 144 of the CrPC - prohibiting the assembly of five or more people without permission - in the city ahead of the centenary of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre, reported The Indian Express.

Facing increasing pressure to apologise on behalf of United Kingdom for the tragedy in which thousands of innocent and unarmed people were mercilessly shot dead by General Reginald Dyer 100 years ago - on April 13 of 1919, May said that it was an extremely unfortunate incident.

British government records say 379 people, including women and children, were killed and almost 1200 were injured.

Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the main opposition Labour Party, called for "a full, clear and unequivocal apology".

In 1997, Queen Elizabeth II laid a wreath at the site but her gaffe-prone husband Prince Philip stole the headlines by reportedly saying that Indian estimates for the death count were "vastly exaggerated".

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The massacre took place in Jallianwala Bagh in Amritsar on Baisakhi in April 1919 when the British Indian Army troops, under Colonel Reginald Dyer, fired machine guns at people holding a pro-independence demonstration.

May, during the Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons, also highlighted current India-UK relations.

Speaking in the House of Commons UK Foreign Office minister Mark Field said that repeatedly issuing apologies for events connected to the British Raj had its own set of problems and added that it will set a wrong precedent as financial implications might follow once the formal apology is issued. I am pleased that today the UK-India relationship is one of collaboration, partnership, prosperity and security.

"I feel that we perhaps need to go further... More important, Britain must express atonement not just for one atrocity, but for the colonial evils of which #Jallianwala Bagh was the symbol, not the cause". "Therefore, this is work in progress and I can not make any promises", he said.

The debate was tabled by Conservative Party MP Bob Blackman, who opened proceedings with a strong sentiment of "shame" as he called on the British government to apologise. While it would have been my privilege to be there but for the fact that it is falling on the eve of the hundredth anniversary of the brutal massacre at Jallianwala Bagh in Amritsar. It is managed by the Jallianwala Bagh National Memorial Trust.

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