Cameron’s regret satisfies some, families seek more

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    Amritsar, (IANS) Not everyone is satisfied with British Prime Minister David Cameron’s visit to the Jallianwala Bagh ground here and his description of the 1919 massacre of Indians as “shameful”.

    While Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal called the trip a
    “historic day”, Cameron is being targeted by relatives of those killed by the British Indian Army for not offering a clear apology.

    Badal welcomed Cameron’s expression of regret over the April 13, 1919 massacre.

    Badal said: “The country, especially Punjab, had been waiting for such an apology. The visit … to Jallianwala Bagh itself (said) a lot.”

    But families of the victims of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre said Cameron should have formally apologized.

    “What he has said is his personal statement. There is no official apology
    from the British government,” said Sunil Kapoor, president of the Jallianwala Bagh Freedom Fighters Foundation whose great grandfather Vasu Lal Kapoor was among those killed in 1919.

    He and others complained that the authorities did not let them meet Cameron.

    “Since morning police were deployed outside our homes,” said Jallianwala Bagh Shaheed Samiti president Bhushan Behl, whose grandfather, Shadi Lal, too was killed in 1919.

    “It is routine for people to call it (massacre) a shameful act. The British government must apologize officially.”

    Cameron became the first prime minister of Britain to step into the
    Jallianwala Bagh memorial. He took off his shoes before placing a wreath
    at the memorial.

    “This was a deeply shameful act in British history. One that Winston
    Churchill rightly described as monstrous. We must never forget what happened here and we must ensure that the UK stands up for the right of peaceful protests,” Cameron wrote in the visitors’ book.

    Cameron signed as “Prime Minister David Cameron”.

    Hundreds of innocent and unarmed men, women and children were massacred at
    the Jallianwala Bagh by British forces led by Brigadier General Reginald Dyer.

    The victims had no place to escape as the only narrow entrance was blocked by troops.

    Colonial era records had put the death toll at around 400 while leaders of the country’s freedom movement placed it at over 1,000.

    On Wednesday, Cameron walked through the same narrow pathway, painted in
    pale saffron colour, to bow his head and pay homage to those killed inside.

    Queen Elizabeth had visited the Jallianwala Bagh memorial in 1997.

    S.K. Mukherjee, whose great-grandfather S.C. Mukherjee was among those
    killed, said he was satisfied with the prime minister’s visit and expression of regret.

    Mukherjee, whose family has been associated with the Jallianwala Bagh
    National Memorial Trust, waccompanied Cameron during the visit Wednesday.