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British Sikhs Demand Inquiry Into Thatcher Govt's Role In 1984 Operation Bluestar

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British Sikhs demand inquiry into Thatcher govt's role in 1984 Operation Bluestar
Kounteya Sinha, Times of India, Jan 1 2015
LONDON: The British Sikh community has warned political parties going into general elections in May this year that failure to initiate an independent public inquiry into whether the Margaret Thatcher-led British government provided military assistance to India in planning Operation Blue star 30 years ago, will cost them the all-important Asian vote.

The Sikh Federation (UK) said on Thursday that it will be releasing the Sikh Manifesto 2015-2020 and naming a prioritised list of 50 target seats where the 700,000 strong Sikh community can determine who is elected in May 2015.

The Federation is also sending letters to the leaders of each of the main political parties to clarify their positions by March 31, with regards to demands set out "in the Sikh Manifesto so the British Sikh community can be advised on the merits of each of the political parties".

Bhai Amrik Singh, the chair of the Sikh Federation (UK), said "Despite David Cameron's attempt in mid-January 2014 to limit the political damage by getting the Cabinet Secretary, Sir Jeremy Heywood, to produce and present a report to parliament with unprecedented speed, we have been successful in winning the wider debate for a fuller independent inquiry and not letting this be brushed under the carpet".

"We said it would only be a matter of time before further revelations and the inevitable need for an independent public inquiry. By the time of the 30th anniversary of the June 1984 massacre we had already secured the support of over 200 UK politicians - MPs, MEPs, Prospective Parliamentary Candidates, MSPs and Welsh Assembly members from nine political parties. With the General Election around the corner this number is expected to double in the next few months".

The Federation said "Last week newly-released files from the Irish National Archives under the 30-year rule have revealed how Margaret Thatcher in November 1984 was paranoid about British Sikhs. It is hugely surprising Thatcher would bring up the Sikh question while discussing Irish nationalists".

Fearing a backlash from the politically active Sikh community in UK, British prime minister David Cameron recently asserted that there was "absolutely no direct involvement" of the Margaret Thatcher government in the planning of the infamous attack by the Indian Army to flush out militants from the heart of the revered Golden Temple.

Staring at a general election in 2015, Cameron realizes that offending Britain's 430,000 strong Sikh population could be political suicide.

Cameron said "Around 30 years ago, a great tragedy unfolded at the Sri Harmandir Sahib in Amritsar. Many lives were lost and the scars in the Sikh community still run deep. So when documents came to light a few weeks ago raising the possibility that the then-UK Government was involved in the Indian Army's operation, I immediately set up an inquiry to find those answers."

Cameron added "I hope the manner in which we have investigated these dreadful events will provide some reassurance to the Sikh community, here in Britain and elsewhere."

Britain's 2011 census says UK is home to nearly 4.3 lakh Sikhs of which 4.2 lakh live in England alone. In comparison, the 2001 Census showed 3.36 lakh Sikhs were settled in UK - a 28% increase in just a decade.

The community was also found to be very politically active. Around 3 in 4 Sikhs have voted in different elections in the last 4 years. Around 2 in 3 voted in the 2010 general elections.
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