94 years after massacre, a British PM is headed to Jallianwala

David Cameron

Prime Minister David Cameron will visit Jallianwala Bagh Wednesday, becoming the first British premier to make a trip to the site in Amritsar where an estimated one thousand people protesting peacefully were massacred in 1919 on the orders of a British army officer.

The Indian Express has learnt that Cameron will fly to Amritsar in a special aircraft around forenoon and return to Delhi by midday before flying out of the country in the afternoon.

South Block and Scotland Yard were closely coordinating the visit and have kept it under wraps because of security concerns.

Cameron's trip will take place 16 years after Queen Elizabeth II and her husband Prince Philip visited Amritsar in 1997. Philip had angered many when he had described the massacre as "vastly exaggerated" during the visit. Police had to cane protesters who carried black flags and raised slogans against the Queen in Amritsar.

In recent years, there have been a flurry of visits to Amritsar by British government personalities. Foreign Secretary Jack Straw went there twice and British minister Baroness Sayeeda Hussain Warsi also made a trip recently.

While it is not known whether Cameron will tender an apology for the massacre when he signs the visitor's book at Jallianwala Bagh - as demanded by Sikh leaders in Amritsar - British visitors in the past have condoled the deaths in the shooting.

Analysts see an apology, if it is made, as Britain's attempt to get over its post-colonial guilt. But some top British leaders, including former PM Gordon Brown, have opposed the idea.

Cameron will also visit the Golden Temple and meet officials of SGPC, the Sikhs' highest body on religious affairs.

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