The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby recently visited the site of a brutal massacre that happened in 1919 under the British colonial rule in India and offered his personal apologies. He expressed his “deep sense of grief” for a “terrible atrocity.”
Earlier in April, then U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May told the House of Commons that the episode was “a shameful scar on British-Indian history.” However, she had stopped short of apologizing.
The massacre is still remembered in India as a symbol of colonial cruelty. Here’s what happened a hundred years ago.
Killing Unarmed Protesters
After World War I, the British, who controlled a vast empire in India, agreed to give Indians limited self-government due to India’s substantial contribution to the war effort.
These reforms, named the Montagu-Chelmsford reforms after the secretary of state for India and the viceroy of India, promised to lead to more substantial self-government over time.
However, around the same time the British had passed the draconian Rowlatt Acts, which allowed certain political cases to be tried without trial. And the trial was also to be conducted without juries. The acts were designed to ruthlessly suppress all forms of political dissent.