Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh has welcomed the reported suggestion of the Mayor of London that the UK government should apologise for the Jallianwala Bagh massacre.
Talking to mediapersons here on Wednesday, the Chief Minister said he had heard about Sadiq Khan’s remarks on the Jallianwala incident and was happy to know about the Mayor’s feelings in the matter. The suggestion, coming from a British government functionary, was good and, if implemented, would go a long way in further strengthening ties between India and UK, and perhaps, to some extent, assuaging the wounds of Indians who suffered the pain of the independence struggle, he added.
Earlier, the two leaders met here on Tuesday night at a dinner hosted by the Chief Minister for the visiting dignitary.
Various issues of mutual interest were discussed at the meeting, during which Sadiq Khan underscored the close and emotional ties between London and Punjab. Pointing out that there was a large Punjabi diaspora in London, the Chief Minister said the two sides shared a strong connect, which they were continuously striving to further strengthen.
In a token gesture, symbolizing the shared interest of Punjab and Britain in cricket, the London Mayor presented embossed cricket balls to the Chief Minister and Cabinet Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu, who also represents Amritsar in the state assembly.
Meanwhile, MLAs from Amritsar district submitted a memorandum to the Mayor of London, seeking direct British Airways flights between the holy city of Punjab and London, to facilitate personal and business travel.
With more than 35 million pilgrims visiting Amritsar every year to obeisance at the famous Golden Temple, Amritsar had emerged as the preferred destination for the Punjabi diaspora and foreign tourists, the MLAs said in the memorandum.
Amritsar Airport, and the overall Punjab region, account for large international traffic to and from North America, Europe (including UK, Germany and Milan) and Australia but at present the airport lacks any non-stop flights to these destinations. As a result, thousands of people travel by road to take direct non-stop flights between Delhi-London or Delhi-Birmingham. All this traffic can travel direct with a non-stop British Airways flight between London-Amritsar, said the memorandum, adding that this would lead to a major increase in business apart from making British Airways more popular among the large Punjabi population settled all over the world.
The addition of direct Amritsar-London flight will also enable British Airways to earn two fold businesses, one with the flights to European cities and another from Amritsar to North American sector, the memorandum further said, pointing out that a large population from Punjab is settled in Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary, San Francisco, New York, Detroit, Birmingham, London, Frankfurt, Milan, and other international destinations served by British Airways.
In the memorandum, the MLAs further pointed out that more than 6 million Punjabis settled in North America, Europe, Australia, South East Asia and Middle East countries are from the cities served by Sri Guru Ram Das Jee International Airport, Amritsar (ATQ), which is North India’s second largest airport after the Delhi airport. With runway length of 12000 ft. and all high-end equipment needed to handle wide range of international flight operations and wide bodied aircraft, it has also been used as an alternative to Delhi Airport especially during fog season in winter.
Pointing out that the airport had all the world class facilities available in its integrated terminal building, they further said that the Amritsar airport is currently connected to many international destinations by Qatar airways, Air India, SpiceJet, Malindoair, FlyScoot, Turkmenistan and Uzbek airlines.
Further, it provides a big load of transit traffic to Delhi Airport with Indian carriers like Air India, Jet Airways, Vistara etc. British Airways also has codeshare with Jet Airways, Vistara and other Indian carriers to connect passengers from Amritsar Airport to Delhi for onward journey on its flights to London and other international destinations. In fact, Delhi is Amritsar’s Airport primary domestic destination accounting for more than three fourth of its total domestic passengers (803,693 out of 996,227, 80% in the year 2016).
Prominent amongst other who were present on the occasion included; Member Parliament from Amritsar Gurjit Singh Aujla, Local Government Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu, CM’s Media Advisor Raveen Thukral, MLAs Sukhbinder Singh Sarkaria, Harpartap Singh Ajnala, Tarsem Singh DC, OP Soni, Raj Kumar Verka and Inderbir Singh Bolaria (all MLAs) and President District Congress (Urban) Yugal Kishore besides all MLAs from assembly segments of Amritsar, Tarn Taran, Gurdaspur and Pathankot districts also attended the function.