Tribune News Service
Amritsar, September 10
Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, who visited Jallianwala Bagh here today, said he was ashamed and sorry for the massacre that took place a hundred years ago. However, he clarified that he had no political authority to speak on the behalf of the British government on the issue.
Terming the site as a “place of sin and redemption”, he said coming here had aroused a sense of “profound shame” and he also read out a prayer to seek forgiveness from God for the massacre.
“I am so ashamed and sorry for the impact of the crime committed here. I cannot speak for the British government. I am not an official of the government, but can speak in the name of Christ. I am a religious leader. It is a place of sin and redemption and ‘Father forgive’ is the only answer,” he said.
He mourned the tragedy by prostrating on the floor to pay tributes to the martyrs at the memorial.
Accompanied by Bishop PK Samantaroy, Daniel B Das and Ayub Daniel, he walked down the memorial, and halted briefly at Amar Jyoti. He enquired about the bullet marks on the walls from the official accompanying him.
When asked if he would approach the British government to seek an apology for the massacre, he said, “I think I have been very clear (about) what I feel and that will be broadcast in England.”
About his 10-day India tour, he said it had been a pilgrimage. “It has been a lesson of profound learning and privilege that I will never forget. I admire the potential and hope that this country offers to the world.”
In the visitors’ book, the Archbishop wrote: “It is deeply humbling and provokes feelings of profound shame for me as a British Christian to visit the place that witnessed such an atrocity over a hundred years ago. My first response is pray for healing of relatives of descendants of our relationships with India and its wonderful people. But that prayer renews in me a desire to pray and act so that together we may learn from history (and) root out hatred, promote reconciliation and globally seek the common good.”
In a Facebook post, the Archbishop said, “I feel a deep sense of grief having visited the site of the horrific Jallianwala Bagh massacre today in Amritsar, where a great number of Sikhs, as well as Hindus, Muslims and Christians, were shot dead by British troops in 1919... Learning of what happened, I recognise the sins of my British colonial history, the ideology that too often subjugated and dehumanised other races and culture... The past must be learned from so nothing like this ever happens again.”