OR, A BRIEF INVENTORY OF CONTEMPORARY APOLOGY
British Prime Minister David Cameron has joined a sparse line of compatriot eminences to hang their heads at the ringside of a most ignoble theatre of Empire but return without shaking it in regret.
Over nearly a century now, British protagonists have approached the 1919 massacre ground of Jallianwala Bagh thumbing the thesaurus for an appropriate word to pick. Sorry has not been among them.
The feisty imperialist and then Secretary of War, Winston Churchill, described Brigadier-General Reginald Dyer’s shoot orders on the unarmed Baisakhi-day gathering as a “monstrous event”. His disapproval seemed to stem not so much from the hundreds dead and injured as from his considered view that the slaughter did not represent “the British way of doing business.”
Around the time Churchill made his annotation on that disgraceful chapter of British dominion over India, Dyer, though relieved of charge, was being feted as a hero on his home island; among the tributes he was showered with was a 26,000 pound sterling purse. Fifty of those crowns had come from Rudyard Kipling, who called Dyer “the man who saved India” and initiated collections for his homecoming prize.