On April 13, 1919, peaceful and non-violent punjabi fraternity and also Baisakhi pilgrims have gathered in a 6 acre bagh (garden). Many of them present there were unaware of the martial law conditions prevailing there. Then entered Colonel R.Dyer. He order his troops to fire at the gathering. So merciless was his act, they did not space children, women, and pregnant women too. Various sources put the casualties numbers differently. 1000 plus people are believed to have perished in this inhumane act. This led to the later famous non-cooperation movement in 1921-22.
A couple of years from now, 2019, will be the centenary year of the gruesome Jallianwala Bagh Massacre, also known as Amritsar massacre. It would be an appropriate moment for the British PM or someone from the royal family to tender an official apology for all the bad they have done to india. Shashi Tharoor, an MP from Kerala has been very vocal on this issue. His speech last year regarding reparations and how much does British owe to India was lauded by everyone, beyond political and party lines. India’s share of world GDP before British entered India was 23%. 200 years after their colonial rule India’s contribution to global GDP fell to an abysmally low 6%, thanks to British for plundering and looting our resources. London would not be London without their exploitation from India.
Mr.Shashi Tharoor, in his recent book, An Era of Darkness, tried to put all facts in place and make the globe realise what India lost. It’s now tough to calculate the damage, economical, material, social, but a formal apology from the British side would make them a more responsible nation. However, with conservative party at the helm, this becomes very difficult. Mr.Tharoor, speaking in an interview slammed British for dividing India on religious and caste lines, which we still struggle to come out. Partition of Bengal in 1905-06 was based on religious lines, though the official reason was mentioned as ‘Administrative convenience’. After the 1857 war, the British groomed Ghoorka’s and attracted them to army. They raised various regiments based on regions & religions.
The Britishers can learn from Canadian PM Mr.Justin Trudeau who apologised for an incident that has defamed Canada almost a century ago. The Prime Minister tendered a ‘full apology’ for the Komagata Maru incident that happened in 1914, where hundreds of Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims were denied entry into Canada, thereby leaving their fate to uncertainty.
“I am concerned, what is to my mind the best thing to do is to seek a certain atonement, which in the case of the British they have never apologised to the people of India for what was done here for 200 years. There are a couple of examples I have mentioned in the preface of the book. Once an act of atonement has taken place we can be more free to concentrate on today’s relationship, which is after all a relationship of sovereign equals which is not today a one-sided colonial relationship anymore” said Mr.Shashi Tharoor.
What do you think? Should the British apologise for their 200 years of colonial rule in India? Will an apology suffice for their disastrous acts? Give a thought.