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Plea For Inquiry Over Thatcher Documents

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Plea for inquiry over Thatcher documents

A group representing British Sikhs has demanded a full inquiry into the relationship between Margaret Thatchers government and the government of India in the 1980s.

It comes amid a raft of concerns from newly released cabinet papers including one that showed there were discussions surrounding an Asian sports event in the Black Country. The cabinet papers showed how Mrs Thatchers government had said it would try to persuade the BBC not to give much publicity to the Sikh Asian Games taking place in West Bromwich in the summer of 1985.

The games were to be named controversially in honour of the Sikh bodyguards who assassinated former Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. She was killed by two of her bodyguards, Satwant Singh and Beant Singh, in the aftermath of Operation Blue Star, the Indian Armys June 1984 assault on the Golden Temple in Amritsar which left the Sikh temple heavily damaged.

Bhai Amrik Singh, chairman of the Sikh Federation, said: Despite David Camerons 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.

The terms of reference of Heywoods internal inquiry for David Cameron and the associated report were intentionally kept very narrow and limited to a time period that avoided the link between military assistance for the attack on our holiest shrine in return for increased trade with India.

We said it would only be a matter of time before further revelations and the inevitable need for an independent public inquiry, he added.

The newly released papers show that in February 1985 the Thatcher cabinet noted that in India resentment against the United Kingdom lingered on and that Indian feelings still ran high over the activities of Sikh extremists in the United Kingdom.

And in Julys cabinet paper Mrs Thatcher is minuted as saying that urgent approaches should be made to Sandwell District Council, the University of Aston, the leaders of the Sikh community and other individuals who might have influence in the matter, in order to secure the withdrawal of the naming of the games for Mrs Gandhis alleged assassins.

It went on to say: High level approaches should also be made to the BBC and other radio and television news organisations in the United Kingdom about the undesirability of major publicity for this matter.

Last year it was revealed that in 1984 a British SAS officer had advised the Indian government before the Golden Temple assault, dubbed Operation Blue Star.

However, it was said in Parliament that the officers advice to the Indian government was not followed.

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