Cameron marks 1919 Amritsar massacre by British troops in India
February 20, 2013 -- Updated 1453 GMT (2253 HKT)
- David Cameron visits a memorial to a 1919 massacre in the Indian city of Amritsar
- Cameron: "We must never forget what happened here"
- British prime minister stops short of a formal apology for the colonial-era massacre
- Hundreds of people were killed when British troops opened fire on unarmed protesters
New Delhi (CNN) -- UK Prime Minister David Cameron visited the site of the infamous 1919 Amritsar massacre by British troops in India on Wednesday -- but those hoping he might apologize for the atrocity were disappointed.
Cameron, the first serving British prime minister to visit Amritsar, a Sikh holy city in the northwestern state of Punjab, laid a wreath at a memorial to the hundreds killed in the massacre.
Writing in a book of condolences at the Jallianwala Bagh memorial, he described the massacre as "a deeply shameful event in British history." He added, "We must never forget what happened here."
However, he did not give a formal apology for the atrocity, which occurred while India was part of the British Empire.
Cameron's remarks in the visitor book
Cameron's remarks in the visitor book
A spokesman for Cameron said the British state had always described the massacre as monstrous, but that "we need to be careful about going around apologizing for things that happened 40 years before the prime minister was born."
Cameron's trip to India is focused on promoting closer trade and business links.
Queen Elizabeth II and her husband, Prince Philip, previously visited Amritsar in 1997.
In 1920, then-cabinet minister Winston Churchill condemned the massacre as "an episode which appears to me to be without precedent or parallel in the modern history of the British Empire ... It is an extraordinary event, a monstrous event, an event which stands in singular and sinister isolation."
The atrocity occurred when a British Army general ordered troops to open fire to disperse a crowd of unarmed protesters who had gathered in Jallianwala Bagh, Amritsar.
A report by a British-led committee in the wake of the massacre put the number killed at close to 400, with three to four times as many people injured. Indian observers put the number killed at more than 1,000.
Today's five most popular stories
Part of complete coverage on
October 21, 2014 -- Updated 0102 GMT (0902 HKT)
A 15-year-old pregnant girl is rescued from slavery, only to be charged with having sex outside of marriage, shocked rights activists say -- a charge potentially punishable by death.
October 22, 2014 -- Updated 0333 GMT (1133 HKT)
After sushi and ramen, beef is on the list of must-eats for many visitors to Japan.
October 20, 2014 -- Updated 1607 GMT (0007 HKT)
Airports judged on comfort, conveniences, cleanliness and customer service.
October 21, 2014 -- Updated 1440 GMT (2240 HKT)
Scientists use CT scans to recreate a life-size image of the ancient king.
October 22, 2014 -- Updated 0241 GMT (1041 HKT)
Despite billions spent on eradicating poppy production, Afghan farmers are growing bumper crops, a U.S. government report says.
October 20, 2014 -- Updated 1319 GMT (2119 HKT)
With so many new attractions on the way, the next few years are going to be a roller coaster ride.
October 16, 2014 -- Updated 0429 GMT (1229 HKT)
Thomas Malthus famously predicted that rising populations would create a food crunch: Could this be true?
October 21, 2014 -- Updated 0945 GMT (1745 HKT)
The lives of everyone close to Oscar Pistorius and the girl he killed are changed forever, his siblings say.
October 22, 2014 -- Updated 0453 GMT (1253 HKT)
Gene Simmons reflects on 40 years of KISS, and how even rock royalty needs sound business principles.
October 18, 2014 -- Updated 1033 GMT (1833 HKT)
From "Sick Man of Europe" to the world's fourth largest economy.
October 21, 2014 -- Updated 1331 GMT (2131 HKT)
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.