Justin Welby warns against 'misuse of power' in visit to site of Indian massacre

The Archbishop of Canterbury lying face down at a memorial remembering victims of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre(Photo: BBC)

The Archbishop of Canterbury has spoken of his shame and sorrow over the horrific massacre of men, women and children at Jallianwala Bagh, India, a hundred years ago. 

The tragedy, also known as the Amritsar massacre, took place on 13 April 1919, when British forces opened fire on the unarmed crowds, killing at least 400 people, including 41 children.

In a moving visit to the site of the massacre, Justin Welby lay face down at a memorial remembering the victims. 

Speaking to reporters at the site, he said: "The souls of those who were killed and wounded, of the bereaved, cry out to us from these stones and warn us about power and the misuse of power." 

He continued: "This is a place of both sin and redemption beause you have remembered what they have done and their names will live, their memory will live before God.

"And I am so ashamed and sorry for the impact of this, for this crime committed here."

The massacre has remained a sore point in UK-India relations.  While the British Government has in the past spoken of its "deep regret" over the incident, it has never offered a formal apology.

The Archbishop stressed that he was speaking in his capacity as a religious leader and not on behalf of the British Government. 

He also took time to visit the Golden Temple in Amritsar, a major pilgrimage site for the world's Sikhs.

"It's been a real honour to visit the Golden Temple in #Amritsar, the holiest site for the Sikh faith," the Archbishop said.

"I'm constantly inspired by the commitment of Sikhs to serving others – the amazing langar kitchen here serves free meals around the clock to 50,000 people a day."