After U-Turn On Kashmir, Labour Party Now Ready To Apologise To India For Jallianwala Massacre

Published : 22 Nov 2019 8:06 AM GMT
After U-Turn On Kashmir, Labour Party Now Ready To Apologise To India For Jallianwala MassacreImage Credit: Wikimedia

Britain’s opposition Labour Party on Thursday promised to apologize to India for Jallianwallah Bagh massacre if voted to power. The party, in its manifesto, mentioned audit of the country’s colonial past and rectification of the misdeeds carried by the British during the colonial rule by apologising to the then colonised countries.

This includes an apology to India for the Jallianwala Bagh massacre in Amritsar, 100 years ago.

As a part of their greater stride towards “New Internationalism”, the party says that within its first year of being elected to the UK Parliament, it would “conduct an audit of the impact of Britain’s colonial legacy to understand our contribution to the dynamics of violence and insecurity across regions previously under British colonial rule”.

The party has mentioned this in a 107-page manifesto titled ‘It’s Time For Real Change’, launched by party leader Jeremy Corbyn.

The document also commits Labour to constitute a judge-led enquiry into Britain’s “injustices of the past”, including a public review of the country’s role in Operation Blue Star – referred to as the “Amritsar massacre”.

“We will issue a formal apology for Jallianwala Bagh massacre, and hold a public review into Britain”s role in the Amritsar massacre,” read the manifesto under the sub-head “Effective Diplomacy”.


Labour Party Roots

The Labour Party is a centre-left political party in the United Kingdom that has been described as an alliance of social democrats, democratic socialists and trade unionists. The party’s platform emphasises greater state intervention, social justice and strengthening workers’ rights.


Kashmir Controversy

In its model of New Internationalism, the Labour Party mentioned its elaborative plans to prioritise curbing conflict and fostering peace. The statement made a specific reference to the Kashmir conflict in the sub-continent.

“The Conservatives have failed to play a constructive role in resolving the world’s most pressing humanitarian crises, including in Kashmir, Yemen and Myanmar, and the escalation of tensions with Iran,” the manifesto noted.

The apology seemingly looks like an effort to appease the disgruntled diaspora of 18 lakh Indians scattered across Britain.

The party was dragged into controversy after they unanimously supported Kashmir’s right to self-determination and protested against alleged India’s occupation of Kashmir. The move angered many British Indians.

A letter was also shot by prominent British Indian organisations like India Professionals Forum, Hindu Forum Britain, British Sikh Association, and Jain Network to Jeremy Corbyn.

The party later took a U-turn on its stance on Kashmir and declared it an internal matter, to be settled between India and Pakistan.


Right To Use Apology As Tool To Garner Votes?

In an effort to woo the Indian voters who represent over 1 million votes in the UK election, the British leaders have left no stone unturned in the past.

Former Prime Minister Theresa May stopped short of a formal apology earlier this year when she expressed “deep regret” for the colonial era attack on Jallianwala Bagh, on its 100th year in 2019.

Britain has been adamant and has not apologized to India for the devastation they caused during 200 years of colonial rule. Atonement from Britain makes them liable to pay reparations to India.


The Logical Indian’s Take

The promise of apology for the wrongdoings of the past, if elected, looks tantalizing to many Indians, but using something as grave as Jallianwalla Bagh tragedy to serve one’s political interests, trivialises the issue. It’s opportunistic.

The proposal is welcome, but the motive it harbours is not!


Also Read: Analysis: Amit Shah Asks CRPF To Chase Urban Naxals, Ignites Old Rhetoric On Crackdown

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