(EDs: Updating with details from London) Chandigarh/London, Jul 29 (PTI) Britain’s two new Sikh MPs today sought an independent inquiry into the role of the UK government in Operation Bluestar, an Indian Army action in 1984 to flush out terrorists from the Golden Temple.Also Read - Who Is Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa, Likely To Succeed Amarinder Singh As Next Punjab CM
Britain’s first turban-wearing MP Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi and Preet Kaur Gill said the UK government would be accused of a cover up if the alleged revelations in the new documents, released by the UK’s National Archives, are not taken note of. Also Read - Congress President Will Choose New CM For Punjab, Sent 2 Resolutions, Says Harish Rawat After CLP meet
According to the Sikh Federation UK, the release of FCO files from 1985 reveals that the then Indian Army chief General Arun Shridhar Vaidya, who planned Operation Blue Star in June 1984, received a confidential briefing from the British Army earlier in 1984. Also Read - 'I Feel Humiliated': Captain Amarinder Singh Submits Resignation as Punjab CM, Takes Team Along
Dhesi, who is in Chandigarh on a private visit to India, said, “As far as 1984 Operation Bluestar is concerned, you know that all felt pain. But we never knew that there was any role of the UK government in it. We always thought it was an action taken by the Indian government.”
Addressing the media, he claimed that some journalists in the UK while analysing secret documents found “involvement of the then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.” “Whether the role was in advisory capacity or something more but when we learnt about it, we were sad because we never thought our government would have any role in it,” the British MP said.
“That is why we are demanding that independent inquiry should be held to establish the extent of then Thatcher government’s involvement in 1984 operation Bluestar,” the Labour Party MP said.
Dhesi said the Conservative Party-led government had earlier ordered an inquiry in this regard. But it was “an eyewash”.
“Neither anything came out of that inquiry nor any document was released. That is why the demand for independent inquiry is growing to put pressure on the UK government,” he said.
The onus for ordering inquiry is entirely on the present UK government, Dhesi said, adding “If the UK government makes any delay in ordering independent inquiry then it will be called as justice delayed, justice denied.” Dhesi, known as Tan, won his Slough seat to become the UK’s first turban-wearing MP last month.
In London, Gill, the first woman Sikh MP and chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for British Sikhs, said: “Clearly this would suggest that the Heywood review (ordered by former British Prime Minister David Cameron) was a whitewash he had access to these files but failed to mention that Britain briefed India’s top brass on counter-insurgency.
“The government’s refusal to release so many records from 1985, including another file about India’s National Security Guard, is a huge cover-up. It will cause a backlash from Britain’s Sikh community who need to know if the SAS trained this unit.”
Sikh Federation UK claims that its researchers have found new documents that cast doubt on the internal review commissioned by the then Prime Minister Cameron in January 2014 by the top civil servant, Sir Jeremy Heywood which concluded that the UK’s involvement was purely advisory in the Army operation against terrorists in Amritsar in 1984.
Phil Miller, the researcher working with the Sikh Federation (UK), claims that the UK Government is hiding almost a third of historic files that could shed light on SAS involvement in the Indian para-military operation.
Bhai Amrik Singh, the Chair of the Sikh Federation (UK) said: “The public deserve to know the truth of UK involvement in the 1980s…and all forms of assistance provided to the Indian authorities to try and eliminate Sikh calls for freedom and justice.
On the issue of ‘Kirpan’ and Sikhs not being allowed to wear turbans in some counties, Dhesi said he would continue to raise such issues at appropriate platforms.
“It is a matter of great sadness that people cannot practice their faith as they cannot freely wear ‘kirpan’ or turban. In France, more than 80,000 turbaned Sikh soldiers laid down their lives in order to liberate that very country.
And now that very county do not allow turbans. Sikh students cannot go to schools with turban,” he rued.
On being asked about students from Punjab now preferring other countries over the UK, Dhesi criticised the Conservative party led-UK government for being “too harsh” as far as immigration rules were concerned and said immigration rules should be “balanced”.
“We are in favour of having immigration rules which benefit Britain and which are fair. At the moment, Conservative party is being too harsh as we are actually losing out the potential of so many intelligent students (who want to come to the UK). … Conservative party has harmed our economy,” he said.
Asked about ‘Khalistan’ sympathisers in the UK, Dhesi said “It is not a question of supporting any particular ideology.”
He said like in India, people get a chance to express their views and follow any ideology in the UK also, “there is freedom of expression and freedom of speech.” “Each party, like Congress, SAD, AAP has support base in the UK. It is not correct that people living in UK follow only one ideology,” he stressed.
This is published unedited from the PTI feed.