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Jallianwala Bagh massacre centenary: PM Modi pays tributes

14 April 2019

Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted: "Today, when we observe 100 years of the horrific Jallianwala Bagh massacre, India pays tributes to all those martyred on that fateful day".

The massacre took place in the walled enclosure of Jallianwala Bagh, which is still pockmarked with bullet holes. Hundreds of people marched through Amritsar to the gardens last Friday, holding candles and flags and singing patriotic songs. "We salute the people of India who gave everything they had for it. Jai Hind", wrote Mr. Gandhi in the visitor's book at the Jallianwala Bagh memorial after paying homage to the martyrs.

"There are events in the histories of nations which are hard to forget and they hold a very emotionally charged space in a nation's memory", Navtej Sarna, a Sikh who has served as India's High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, told Reuters.

"You might want to rewrite history, but you can't", he said.

He spoke at a memorial marking the centenary of the attack at Jallianwala Bagh by British colonial troops against unarmed Indians attending a peaceful rally calling for independence.

Many dignitaries during the remembrance, including Congress President Rahul Gandhi, Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh, and Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu, reached the memorial and remembered the martyrs.

Brig. Gen. Reginald Edward Harry Dyer was tasked with ensuring order, and imposed measures including a ban on public gatherings. Their valour and sacrifice will never be forgotten.

On April 13, 1999, around 15,000 to 20,000 people had gathered at Jallianwala Bagh in the northern part of Amritsar city on the occasion of Baishakhi. Former prime minister Herbert Asquith called it "one of the worst outrages in the whole of our history". "We deeply regret what happened and the suffering caused", May had said at the British Parliament earlier this week.

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". Many tried to escape by scaling the walls but failed. Others jumped into an open well at the site as the troops fired.

One of several eyewitness accounts compiled by two historians and published in the Indian Express newspaper this week described the horror.

Yesterday, Amarinder Singh's tweet that the United Kingdom government issue and "unequivocal apology" for the massacre a hundred years ago, Union minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal said the Congress should apologise for the Operation Bluestar - the a military crackdown on Sikh terrorists who were carrying on the Khalistan movement.

Jallianwala Bagh massacre centenary: PM Modi pays tributes