Cameron confronts colonial-era massacre in India

20th February 2013, Comments 0 comments

British Prime Minister David Cameron travels to the scene of a notorious massacre during colonial times in India on Wednesday in a bid to confront Britain's legacy on the subcontinent.

He is on the last leg of a three-day trip aimed at forging deeper economic ties during which he has argued for a closer partnership between Britain and its former colony based on their shared history and common values.

The trip to the northwestern city of Amritsar, the home of the Sikh religion and scene of a massacre still taught in Indian school books, will see him tackle one of the enduring scars from British rule, which ended in 1947.

He is set to first visit the holiest shrine for the Sikh religion, the Golden Temple, before travelling to Jallianwala Bagh, where British troops gunned down hundreds of unarmed protesters in 1919, local and diplomatic sources told AFP.

The secretary of the memorial site, S.L. Mukherjee, told AFP: "I hope he pays homage and apologises for the killings."

The move is a gamble by Cameron, who is travelling with British-Indian parliamentarians, and any apology or expression of regret could lead to calls for similar treatment from other former colonies.

In India, it is likely to be broadly welcomed as an acknowledgement of previous crimes, but it also risks focusing attention on the past at a time when Cameron has been keen to stress the future potential of Indo-British ties.

Cameron is not the only senior British public figure to visit Amritsar in recent memory.

In 1997, Prince Philip accompanied the Queen but stole the headlines when he reportedly commented that the death count during the massacre had been "vastly exaggerated".

© 2013 AFP

0 Comments To This Article