File photo of Punjab Governor V.P. Singh Badnore | punjabrajbhavan.gov.in
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Chandigarh: Punjab Governor V.P. Singh Badnore, who is also the Chief Administrator of Chandigarh, has politely said “no” to a dinner reception organised by the British Deputy High Commission in the city Wednesday to celebrate the birthday of Queen Elizabeth II.

The Governor was invited as a special guest to the dinner, but he wrote back saying since the dinner fell just days before the 100th anniversary of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre, it would not be appropriate for him to attend it. The Queen turns 93 on 21 April.

The Jallianwala Bagh massacre took place in Amritsar on the day of Baisakhi, 13 April 1919. British colonial troops commanded by Brigadier-General (later Colonel) Reginald Dyer opened fire on a peaceful gathering in the enclosed compound, resulting in the deaths of hundreds of Indians.


Also readThe BJP can’t remove Congress from India’s history or from the Jallianwala Bagh trust


What Badnore wrote

Governor Badnore’s letter to Andrew Ayre, the British Deputy High Commissioner in Chandigarh, is reproduced verbatim below:

“Thank you very much for the invite as a Special Guest at Her Majesty the Queen’s Birthday Party this evening at your Residence. Let me wish Her Majesty, a long life and good health.

“While it would have been my privilege to be there but for the fact that is falling on the eve of the Hundredth Anniversary of the brutal massacre at ‘Jallianwala Bagh’ in Amritsar, therefore, I express my inability to attend the same.

“United Kingdom and India have had a very cordial relationship after India got its Independence in 1947. We have been supporting each other in diverse fields of mutual interest such as business, trade, education etc. Bilateral economic ties between the two a strong, vibrant and wide ranging. India is the second largest investor in Britain and Britain too is one of the largest investors in India.

“It was only yesterday British minister Mark Field responding to debate at Westminster Hall in the House of Commons expressed ‘deep regrets’ and assured the House that the issue pertaining to an apology for the ‘Jallianwala Bagh Massacre Amritsar’ was in progress. Even the British Prime Minister Theresa May has termed ‘Jallianwala Bagh’ tragedy ‘a shameful Scar’.

“In the wake of the above, it may not be appropriate for me to be present on this occasion as ‘Jallianwala Bagh’ has always been a very emotive issue in Punjab.”

A Supreme Court lawyer also boycotted the dinner

Last week, Supreme Court lawyer Utsav Singh Bains, who was invited to the party, had decided to give the event a miss. He attributed the decision to a recent study on the complicity of the British Empire in the deaths of 30 lakh Indians during the Bengal famine of 1943.

Bains said it would be an “ultimate betrayal of his motherland” if he attended the birthday celebrations, and added that he would boycott all functions hosted under the aegis of the British government until it issued an official apology for the crimes committed under its colonial rule in India.


Also read: UK’s House of Lords is considering an apology for Jallianwala Bagh massacre


 

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