Britain Is Trying to Hide Its Participation in the Amritsar Massacre

The Russian columnist and history expert Vladimir Kornilov discovered that London’s rewriting of history doesn’t just stop at Kenya and Sri Lanka – now the Amritsar massacre is being whitewashed by the neoliberal “democratic” brush…

The West likes to urge Russia to repent. For example, the European Parliament obliged Moscow to condemn communism (in the presence of the acting communists in this body). But if someone holds competitions in “historical forgetfulness”, Great Britain would be the undisputed leader. Not so long ago we already spoke how London tries to remove the traces of war crimes committed in Kenya and Sri Lanka. And now attempts to also hide British participation in the bloodshed in the Indian Amritsar in 1984 are being detected.

As a reminder, back then the Indian army carried out strong cleansing of the sikh separatists who entrenched themselves in the Golden Temple. During this operation, which received the name “Blue Star”, according to official figures up to 500 hundred people died. Although Sikhs repeatedly declared that the number of victims is estimated in the thousands.

This more than controversial act was repeatedly criticised at the different levels, including in Britain. And at first sight, London has nothing to repent for – the cleansing was carried out by the Indian special forces. However, in 2014 a document was mistakenly declassified from which it follows that Margaret Thatcher’s government was informed in advance about the storm of the temple and even participated in its preparation, having sent a special operations advisor to the Indians.

This caused a strong reaction among British Sikhs, and the-then Prime Minister David Cameron fervently promised to investigate the role of London in the bloody massacre. However, as it soon became clear, the government not only didn’t make the effort to restore the truth, but, on the contrary, it actively removed proof. The British Federation of Sikhs published a report entitled “Sacrificing Sikhs”, from which it follows that the former diplomat Bruce Cleghorn, who had a direct bearing on those events, was engaged in an audit of the files connected to the tragedy of 1984. This obvious conflict of interests didn’t disturb high-ranking officials. As a result, from 23,000 documents, Whitehall published only 5 insignificant letters, having come to the conclusion that “the UK military officer’s advice had limited impact in practice”.

The “Morning Star” newspaper, using the Freedom of Information Act, tried to reveal Cleghorn’s role in censoring the documents. However, the authorities refused, referring to the right of the former diplomat to maintain his privacy, which aroused even more suspicion of an attempt to remove the traces.

These scandals coincided in time with a rather hot discussion that unfolded concerning the forthcoming 100th anniversary of one more massacre in Amritsar and the role of Britain in it. On the 13th of April 1919 a British unit under the command of the Brigadier General Reginald Dyer shot a huge crowd of local residents who gathered for a holiday in a public park. Disputes concerning the number of victims are still ongoing. The Brits confirmed the death of up to 400 civilians, including 40 children, the youngest of which was only 6-weeks-old. The Indian national congress stated that the number of victims exceeds 1,000 people. At the same time, Dyer, who was sent home after the massacre he carried out, was welcomed by many in Britain as a hero and received a considerable monetary award.

Due to the upcoming 100-year anniversary of those tragic events, there are growing demands for London to finally publicly apologise and repent for this colonial crime. The debate reached the level of the House of Lords.

However, those who demanded apologies from Whitehall encountered resistance. For example, the Earl of Sandwich at parliamentary hearings declared: “This was too long ago and we cannot continue to regret events so far in the past. In the last 100 years, there have been many other incidents that should never have occurred”. The Earl urged to concentrate on the modern problems of India, and not to dig into the past.

Earlier, the British Foreign Office already rejected appeals to repent for the Amritsar massacre, explaining this by saying that the regrets that were expressed more than once by official figures of different levels are sufficient enough. There is also the opinion that now, in the conditions of Brexit, official repentance will be inappropriate – as though after Brexit something will change.

Although some authors are more honest in their explanations of the reasons for London’s lack of apologies. Thus, the journalist Anjali Mody reasonably believes that in the event that there is repentance for the massacre in Amritsar, London will have to also apologise for even more terrible crimes in the colonial past — in particular, the mass starvation in India that claimed millions of the lives in the 19th century. And here accusations of genocide will be a hand’s reach away.

Thus, regardless of many decades and even centuries passed, the western ex-colonial powers aren’t ashamed of the crimes that they committed in different parts of the planet. Moreover, they seek to hide facts, documents, and attestations of eyewitnesses from the world, frankly garbling history.

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