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British Prime Minister David Cameron, the only Prime Minister of Britain to visit the Jallianwala Bagh massacre site in 94 years after it took place in 1919, today termed the massacre as 'a deeply shameful event in British history'.
He made these remarks in the visitors' book of Jallianwala Bagh National Memorial Trust after paying homage to the martyrs of Jallianwala Bagh massacre where he laid a wreath on the memorial by bending on his knees and observed silence for about a minute.
While terming the massacre shameful, Cameron invoked then secretary of state for war Winston Churchill when he quoted his 1920 remark where Churchill had termed the event as "monstrous".
"This was a deeply shameful act in British history – one that Winston Churchill rightly described at that time as 'monstrous'," Cameron wrote.
He further wrote, "We must never forget what happened here." Advocating the right for peaceful protest in an apparent correlation to Jallianawala Bagh massacre where nearly one thousand peacefully protesting people were shot dead on the orders of Brigadier-General Reginald Dyer, Cameron wrote in concluding line, "And in remembering we must ensure that United Kingdom stands up for the right of peaceful protest around the world."
Even as Cameron did not use the word apology nor made any public remarks regretting the incident, his noting on the book is being seen as an indirect way of expressing regret and as a gesture more than an apology.
"He knelt down on his knees to lay the wreath. He also observed silence for a minute. I think it is an indirect way of (tendering) an apology. Even more than that," said Jallianwala Bagh National Memorial Trust Secretary S K Mukherjee, whose grandfather was one of the survivors in the massacre.
The remarks by Cameron today were in total contrast to what Queen Elizabeth and her husband Prince Phillip during their visit to the site had said. While Queen had called it a distressing episode and added that history cannot be rewritten, Phillip had questioned the very credentials of the massacre saying the incident was exaggerated.