As India marks the 100th anniversary of the Amritsar massacre – one of the worst atrocities of colonial rule – on Saturday, the British envoy to India says his country regrets the killing but offered no apology.

The Jallianwala Bagh massacre, as it is known in India, saw British troops fire on thousands of unarmed people in Amritsar on April 13, 1919.

In a tweet on Saturday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi called the tragedy “horrific” and that the memory of those killed “inspires us to work even harder to build an India they would be proud of”.

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The many British connections to massacres of Sikhs

Sarmila Bose
by Sarmila Bose

Opposition leader Rahul Gandhi, in Amritsar on Saturday, on Twitter called the massacre “a day of infamy that stunned the entire world and changed the course of the Indian freedom struggle”.

At least 379 Indians were killed in the massacre, according to the official colonial-era record, although local residents have said in the past the toll is close to 1,000.

The massacre took place in the walled enclosure of Jallianwala Bagh, which is still pockmarked with bullet holes. 

The incident became a symbol of colonial cruelty and for decades Indians have demanded an apology from the United Kingdom, including during Queen Elizabeth’s visit to Amritsar in 1997.

Hundreds of people, carrying the national flag, attended a candlelight march on Friday in memory of the victims before a commemoration ceremony later on Saturday.

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