‘Deeply regret’ Jallianwala Bagh massacre, Theresa May tells British Parliament

Bhandari bridge in Amritsar

Bhandari bridge in Amritsar

UK Foreign Office minister Mark Field said, in a debate on Jallianwala Bagh massacre at Westminster Hall in the House of Commons complex, that while it was important to draw a line under the past over the shameful episode in history, repeatedly issuing apologies for events related to the British Raj came with their own problems.

Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the Labour party, had called for "a full, clear and unequivocal apology".

Brig Gen George Dyer, the officer in charge of the city, lined his men up against a wall of the enclosed garden and they started firing without warning on the crowd for up to 10 minutes, stopping only when they had run out of ammunition.

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".

Britain should apologize for the killing of unarmed Indian civilians in the city of Amritsar, India's defense minister told AFP on Tuesday days before its 100th anniversary - and for the 1943 Bengal starvation too.

The UK junior foreign minister Mark Field said on Tuesday that an apology could have financial implications and that "we debase the currency of apologies if we make them for many events". "I feel little reluctant to make apologies for things that have happened in the past", the minister said.

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The debate, tabled by Conservative Party MP Bob Blackman, included a series of cross-party British MPs, speaking on the enduring and very deep feelings and emotions the monstrous event continues to raise across the world. "He evaded any penalties post inquiry, as his military superiors advised that they could find no fault with his actions, his orders, or his conduct otherwise", Blackman said, in reference to the British general who had ordered the shooting at a Baisakhi gathering in Amritsar 100 years ago.

Troops of the British Indian Army, under the command of Colonel Reginald Dyer, had fired on civilians who had gathered at Jallianwala Bagh for a peaceful protest on April 13, 1919 killing scores of people.

An apology on behalf of the state is usually made by the prime minister.

The pressure on the Cabinet minister mounted further on Wednesday as he received a letter signed by 80 MPs stressing that he must consider their call for an "apology anew".

"Importantly, our modern relationship with India is focussed on the future, on pooling our strengths".

Following Theresa May's latest statement on the issue in the Commons, it remains to be seen if the United Kingdom government will follow up with any further statements in the lead up to the 100th anniversary on Saturday.

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