Rahul Gandhi pays homage to the martyrs of the Jallianwala Bagh

A young visitor looks at a painting depicting the Amritsar Massare at Jallianwala Bagh in Amritsar on Feb. 4 2010

In the visitors' book, Asquith wrote, "The events of Jallianwala Bagh 100 years ago today reflect a shameful act in British Indian history".

On 13 April 1919 British troops fired on hundreds of unarmed men, women and children in the northern town of Amritsar.

"We must never forget what happened here".

"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.

Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh on Sunday accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of playing "dirty politics" after the PM claimed that the Congress leader skipped an official event marking the Jallianwala Bagh massacre's centenary as he was busy in "Congress parivar's bhakti". In 2013, then British prime minister David Cameron described the killings as a "deeply shameful event" while visiting the Jallianwala Bagh.

"I would just ask you to respect what I came here to do, which was to commemorate those who died 100 years ago, to express the sorrow of the British government and of the British people", Asquith said.

Amarinder Singh, the chief minister of India's Punjab state where the massacre site is located, said on Friday that May's words were not enough.


The number of casualties on April 13, 1919 is unclear, with colonial-era records showing 379 deaths while Indian figures put the number at closer to 1,000.

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Theresa May on Wednesday told parliament that Britain "deeply regretted what happened and the suffering caused".

He said "an unequivocal official apology" is needed for the "monumental barbarity".

Terming the Jallianwala Bagh as a tragedy that created a new consciousness in an India grappling with pulling the British down, Khattar lamented that, in the present times, nationalism seemed in short supply. Many local people tried to escape by scaling the high walls surrounding the garden.

Opposition leader Rahul Gandhi was present in Amritsar and on Twitter called the massacre "a day of infamy that stunned the entire world and changed the course of the Indian freedom struggle". Some jumped into a well at the site. "A number of them were poor innocent children", one witness later recalled.

Dyer, dubbed "The Butcher of Amritsar", said later the firing was "not to disperse the meeting but to punish the Indians for disobedience".

Reaction in Britain varied, with Dyer receiving support in the House of Lords and not least from Rudyard Kipling, who is said to have called him "the man who saved India".

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