British Asia News Network
London, April 18: Commemorating the 100th year anniversary of the Jallianwalla Bagh Amritsar Massacre 1919-2019, political members paid their respect around the world. On April 13th 2019 in the UK House of Lords The Loomba Foundation in association with the Jallianwalla Bagh Centenary Commemoration Committee (JBCCC) hosted a centenary dinner to commiserate the tragic Massacre.
The Loomba Foundation supports the tragic plight of the widows and paid tribute to the tragic event joined by the members of the JBCCC comprising of distinguished people. Lord Desai and Lord Loomba had written to the British Prime Minister Theresa May, requesting for an apology for the dreadful act on Indians and the subsequent attempts for a cover-up of the unfortunate atrocities which took place on the 13th April 1919 at the Jallianwalla Bagh in Amritsar. The JBCCC condemns the horrific killings of innocent, unarmed citizens by the order of Brigadier General Dyer to open fire on thousands of peaceful civilians at the Jallianwalla Bagh, without a warning. Under his orders, soldiers kept firing at unarmed men, women and children for over ten minutes.
Prior to the event Prime minister Theresa May expressed “regret” for the tragedy which took place on Vaisakhi 1919 in Amritsar ahead of the 100thanniversary stating “we deeply regret what happened and the suffering caused” but was short of giving an apology, even though it was requested not only from the Indians but also by British MP’s across the political parties.
The horrific event was debated in the House of Lords on 19 February 2019, to raise awareness. The debate was initiated by Lord Loomba and supported by many members of the House of Lords, including Lord Desai, Lord Bilimoria, Baroness Verma, Lord Suri, Baroness Northover, Lord Alton, Earl of Sandwich, Lord Morgan, Lord Collins of Highbury and Lord Mawson. They wholeheartedly agreed that the British government should tender an apology. Britain’s refusal fo ran apology was regrettable.
The centenary dinner was well attended by dignitaries to show their support and respect, Lord Desai, Lord Suri, Lord Ghadia, Mr A R Ghanashyam (former Ambassador to Angola, Benin, Chad, Sao Tome & Principe, Equatorial Guinea and High Commissioner to Nigeria and Cameroon), H.E Ruchi Ghanashyam High Commissionerof India to the UK, Dr Mohan Khol, President of the Indian professional Forum, Saurav Dutt, Book author of ‘Gardens of Bullets’, members of the JBCCC and Patrons Manjit Singh GK, Dr Rajinder Singh Chadha, Padma Shri Vikramjit Singh Sahni and Surinder Singh Manak and many more eminent personalities. Mr. Aloysius Richard Lobo founder and MD of www.britishasianews.com was among the invitees also attending the event.
Lord Desai opens the evening with thanking everyone for attending and to commiserate “an event which stands out in history as a very tragic one” he also recognised that “India has now 100 years later come a long way…ultimately India is now a power to reckon with” and stated in his statement the Jallianwalla Bagh Massacre 1919 was a crucial event in “shaping history and the Indo-British relations”, as it was at this point of innocent lives being murdered that Ghandi started the steps of India’s independence.
Lord Loomba said “the reason why I’m hosting this event is because The Jallianwalla Bagh incident was very heart aching and should not have happen and I would like two things to happen to investigate whether General Dyer instigated this incident on his own accord or from orders from his higher authorities, second being not only me but many members of house of commons and most of the Indians from Britain and India have called for an apology, and I do not understand what is the reason why the British government after 100 years has not agreed to say sorry. Tonight’s dinner is a remembrance dinner”. His speech followed by a short clip from Richard Attenborough’s 1982 “Ghandi” showing the tragic massacre day.
Speeches followed by the High Commissioner Ruchi and “100 years on there is a wider and much more honest understanding of the sad and deadly act on unarmed civilians in a recent debate in the house of commons on the 9th of April the honourable members of parliament spoke in one voice castigating the barbaric act a 100 years ago, they expressed their sympathies for the victims of the massacre, and the House of Lords also held a debate to condemn the Jallianwalla Bagh massacre".
Speeches were followed by Balbinder Singh’s Kakar (JBCCC Patron) and Padma Shri Vakamijit (JBCCC Patron) who read a poem which was banned in the past about the Jallianwalla Bagh.
Manjit Singh GK (patron and chief of JBCCC) touched on some individuals stories. “In 1917 towards the end of 1st World War the Empire promised autonomy to the Indian nationals; however the massacre proved otherwise and showed their real intentions. After this horrific event the empire lost trust and respect amongst all Indians… when discussing this sad chapter in our history we often only talk about the victims as a block and we make a mistake of forgetting that the people who died were individuals they were fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, wives, husbands and children of someone somewhere, the plight of those relatives who were not at the scene at the time is forgotten.” He went on further to recall a story about a 16 year old boy Sunder Singh who was a talented artist and killed at the Jallianwalla Bagh massacre and his “two art works that he did still remain the most precious treasure with the next generations of his family” he said. He recalled another tragic story that of Hari Ram Behl a petition writer in the Amritsar courts, who came home that day from work and his wife Ratan Devi had cooked his favourite Kheer. Hari Ram promised to come home and eat, instead he was shot in his stomach and the family no longer eat Kheer. “Mahesh the grandson of Hari Ramstill lives near the Jallianwalla Bagh and he says that he can still hear his grandfather’s screams and the wounds for the family are still fresh and as a family rule they never buy any sweets in Month of April.” Manjit ended his speech with “An apology will not bring back the dead or give any real comfort to their family and friends. However, it will help mitigate the pain and bring closure to us all”. A touching speech which was then followed by Lord Suri and Lord Ghadia giving speeches.
The evening ended with a delicious tasty Indian dinner served in a Thali for the first time in the House of Lords.
The JBCCC, The Arts And Cultural Heritage Trust (Partition Museum), International Punjab Forum and The Loomba Foundation have organised an exhibition "Punjab under Siege - the Jallianwalla Bagh Centenary" with the help of Manchester Museum, that will be travelling to the United Kingdom to be held in the cities of Manchester, Birmingham and London in April 2019. The exhibition revisits the massacre through documentations, photographs and reports published in India as well as foreign newspapers of that time. There are also requests to send the exhibition to various cities in India and around Punjab.
Death tolls were alot more than what the British had noted, this horrible massacre was a turning point in history for India to make a stance and move towards independance, yet we do not learn it in history when learning about the British Empire or about India. It should be taught as part of the curriculam so people are eductaed on the facts.
A well written piece on the Jallianwala Bhag, what a sad and embarrasing time in the British Empire Era