Justin Welby has apologised for Amritsar. So why won’t the government? | Kim Wagner
It was a remarkable sight: the archbishop of Canterbury, clad in purple, prostrating himself before the memorial to the Amritsar massacre. And his act of public penitence, on Tuesday, has once again thrust this colonial atrocity into the public limelight, 100 years after it took place. Justin Welby’s heartfelt apology provided a stark contrast to the mealy-mouthed politics that have so far characterised the centenary commemorations. The Amritsar massacre remains one of the most notorious acts of brutality in the history of the British empire. On 13 April 1919, colonial troops under the command of Brigadier General Reginald Dyer opened fire on a large unarmed gathering of Indian civilians at Jallianwala Bagh in order to quell what was incorrectly believed to be an imminent uprising. The shooting lasted 10 minutes, leaving between 500 and 600 people dead and at least three times as many wounded. The massacre permanently alienated most Indian nationalists, including Gandhi, who in 1920 for the first time called for outright independence from Britain. Months after the massacre, CF Andrews, a Christian priest and close friend of Gandhi, helped interview survivors and gather evidence for the independent inquiry into the events. As he described it, “Each act has been in very truth an act of penance, of atonement, an act of reparation for my country.”
Nothing could be more damaging to the myth of British exceptionalism than having to publicly apologise for the RajContinue reading...