In acknowledging post-colonial guilt, William Dalrymple asks us to perceive how others see us. If only those critics could ever see themselves (Books, 6 April). The Amritsar massacre of 1919 was a failure, but how many more families were affected by the Amritsar massacre of 1984? More people were killed by the Indian republic in ‘Operation Blue Star’ than by Dyer in 1919 — and thousands more Sikhs were killed in pogroms perpetrated with the connivance of the Indian National Congress in 1984.
India has its own record of imperialist crimes. Modern India was scarcely months old when it invaded the independent principality of Hyderabad: 200,000 people were killed in a naked act of territorial aggression. In 1975, India also subjected the principality of Sikkim to military occupation and annexation, and from Khalistan to Assam has suppressed multiple regional independence movements with a bloodiness that makes the Troubles look like a playground scuffle. Apologies from Britain for crimes caused during the Raj should only be forthcoming when modern India is forced to make amends for its own neocolonial atrocities.
This letter appeared in this week’s magazine.