Nation recounts Jallianwala Bagh horrors
India on Saturday remembered Jallianwala Bagh massacre victims with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Vice-President M Venkaiah Naidu and Congress chief Rahul Gandhi paying tribute to those killed in the Amritsar tragedy 100 years ago
Amritsar/New Delhi: India on Saturday remembered Jallianwala Bagh massacre victims with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Vice-President M Venkaiah Naidu and Congress chief Rahul Gandhi paying tribute to those killed in the Amritsar tragedy 100 years ago.
The massacre took place at Jallianwala Bagh in Amritsar during the Baisakhi festival on April 13, 1919, when troops of the British Indian Army under the command of Colonel Reginald Dyer opened fire at a crowd of people holding a pro-independence demonstration, leaving several dead and scores injured.
Naidu on Saturday paid his respect by placing a wreath on the memorial and listened hymns being sung by Sikh priests at Jallianwala Bagh. He also released a commemorative coin and a postage stamp to mark the centenary.
The vice-president later tweeted that Jallianwala Bagh massacre was a reminder to each one of us as to how hard-won and precious our freedom is. "History is not a mere chronicle of events. It shows us the depths to which depraved minds can plunge and cautions us to learn from the past. It also tells us that the power of evil is transient," he said.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the memory of those killed in the Jallianwala Bagh massacre serves as an inspiration to work for an India they would be proud of. "Today, when we observe 100 years of the horrific Jallianwala Bagh massacre, India pays tributes to all those martyred ... 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," he tweeted.
Congress president Rahul Gandhi paid floral tributes at the Jallianwala Bagh Memorial and said the cost of freedom must never be forgotten. He was accompanied by Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, State minister Navjot Singh Sidhu and some other Congress leaders. They also observed a two-minute silence to remember those who were massacred in the tragic incident on April 13, 1919.
"The cost of freedom must never ever be forgotten. We salute the people of India who gave everything they had for it," the Congress chief wrote in the visitors' book. British High Commissioner to India Dominic Asquith also visited the Jallianwala Bagh Memorial separately and laid a wreath there.
In the visitors' book, Asquith wrote, "The events of Jallianwala Bagh 100 years ago today reflect a shameful act in British Indian history. We deeply regret what happened and the suffering caused." He also wrote, "I am pleased today that the UK and India have and remain committed to developing further a thriving 21st century partnership." "The events of Jallianwala Bagh 100 years ago today reflect a shameful act in British-Indian history. We deeply regret what happened and the suffering caused," Asquith wrote in the visitors' book at the memorial.
"I am pleased today that the UK and India have and remain committed to developing further a thriving 21st century partnership," he added. In his brief interaction with reporters later, Asquith said British Prime Minister Theresa May on Wednesday described the Jallianwala Bagh massacre as a "shameful scar" on British Indian history.
May, however, stopped short of offering a formal apology. Asked why an apology was not tendered by the British government, Asquith said, "I know this is a really important question. I would just ask you to respect what I came here to do, which is to commemorate those who died a hundred years ago and to express the sorrow of the British government and of the British people.
"But I would repeat what I said earlier that both governments are committed to building a very strong relationship... we have an extraordinarily flourishing relationship today." Asquith also added that the Queen had spoken of the incident as a distressing example of Britain's past history with India.
The British envoy said his great-grandfather H H Asquith, who was the prime minister of Britain between 1908 and 1916, had referred to the Jallianwala Bagh tragedy as one of the worst outrages.
"My own great grandfather, who was the prime minister for almost a decade, had referred to this as one of the worst outrages in our whole history," he said.
Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) president Mayawati, in a tweet, paid homage to those killed in the Jallianwala massacre 100 years back and sought an apology from the British. "On the centenary of the Jallianwala tragedy, our homage to martyrs & sympathy to the family members who sacrificed their lives for the country. It would have been most gratifying had the Indian govt. succeeded in extracting an apology from the British for this gruesome massacre," she wrote on Twitter.