In a debate earlier this week Lord Ahmad asked Her Majesty’s Government what initiatives they had in place to commemorate the contribution to the Great War of people who came from what is now Pakistan, or in other words undivided India.
The contribution to the war effort of all faiths was duly acknowledged by Lord Bourne, who said: ‘Hindus, Sikhs, Zoroastrians, Jains, Baha’is and people of all faiths and none, fall side by side with their Christian and Jewish comrades on the fields where they fought and died together.’
Whilst reflecting on the British Indian army’s contribution, Lord Singh took the opportunity to ask the Minister to address historic wrongs of Empire.
He said, ‘My Lords, undivided Punjab played a substantial part in the greatest volunteer army in history. One of the reasons that was done was because people were promised a substantial measure of independence following the end of the war.’
He went on, ‘Instead, there was fierce repression under the Rowlatt Act and, following that, in the Jallianwala Bagh massacre of several hundred unarmed civilians. We British are justly known for our sense of fair play and justice. Given that, should we not now make an unequivocal apology to the people of the subcontinent?’