Letter: Amritsar apology

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The Independent Online
Sir: If there is an Indian demand that Britain (and the Queen during her current visit) apologise for the Amritsar massacre, it might be noted that in 1920, after inquiry, the Government of India condemned General Dyer, whose troops fired on the crowd: warning should have been given, the continuation of firing was indefensible, the wounded should have been tended. The loss of life was regretted and compensation promised.

The Secretary of State for India, Edwin Montagu, declared that Dyer had "offended against every canon of civilised conduct"; the lack of a warning was "inexcusable"; failure to tend the wounded was "an omission from his obvious duty"; he was "not entitled to select for condign punishment an unarmed crowd which ... had committed no act of violence".

Montagu's words must be regarded as an apology already and rightly made.


London N1

The writer is Professor of the History of India at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London