British Prime Minister David Cameron has asked his cabinet secretary to inquire into newly-released documents suggesting Margaret Thatcher government facilitated the Indian government in 1984 to plan Operation Bluestar against separatist Sikh militants hiding inside the Golden Temple.
Sikh groups in the UK and India reacted with outrage after the documents, discovered by a researcher, were immediately seized upon by Labour MP Tom Watson and leaders of the community.
A foreign office spokesman said last night, "These events led to a tragic loss of life and we understand the very legitimate concerns that these papers will raise. The PM has asked the cabinet secretary to look into this case urgently and establish the facts.”
Read: Op Bluestar will be taken up with UK counterparts: MEA
The Network of Sikh Organisations, headed by Lord Indarjit Singh, said the Foreign and Commonwealth Office has accepted Indrajit’s offer to aid the investigation.
Expressing “shock” over the revelation, secretary general of Sikh Council UK Gurmel Singh said, “I am disappointed there could have been any involvement of the UK government and armed forces in planning the attack on the Golden Temple Complex.”
Read: Operation Bluestar hero trashes talk of UK help
While claiming he will raise the issue in the House of Commons, Watson said, “In the year when Sikhs commemorate their role in the centenary of World War I and mourn for loved ones lost in the events of 1984, this latest revelation will be deeply felt.”
A file photo of Army brass including the then Army chief General Arun Sridhar Vaidya (extreme right) after Operation Blue Star at the Golden Temple in Amritsar. (HT files)
Virendra Sharma, a labour MP from Southall in West London, home to a large population of Sikhs, on said the people in his constituency were angry over the revelations.
“People are angry because it was not publicly known that Margaret Thatcher was helping the Indian government. It was wrong in principle to help other governments in such actions,” Sharma said.
Read: I doubt Thatcher played a role in Operation Bluestar: Mark Tully
The Operation Bluestar left around 600 people dead and deeply hurt the sentiments of the community. Five months after the operation, Indira Gandhi was assassinated by her Sikh bodyguards. Her assassination triggered an anti-Sikh pogrom, leaving more than 4,000 Sikhs dead.
Reacting to the controversy, Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee president Avtar Singh Makkar said the UK's alleged involvement was condemnable and asked both British and Indian governments to offer an unconditional apology to Sikhs.
Senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley said it was time the government of India decided "to tell us the truth as to what the real facts were”.
“This would enable the people of India to conclude whether ‘Operation Blue Star’ was a strategic miscalculation,” he said in a Facebook post. The latest revelations have called into question the claims made by then government that the army was called in May, 1984 only after the talks with the militants had failed.
A file photo of Sikh militants marching on the streets of Amritsar, April 1984. (AFP files)
Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Managing Committee president Manjit Singh GK said the revelations have left no doubt that the “Congress created these conditions to marginalise Sikhs”.
Dr Pritpal Singh, coordinator of American Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee has asked the government of India to clear its stand on the issue.
Radical Sikh outfit Dal Khalsa has written a letter to Cameron, expressing its “pain, concern and anguish over the revelations" and urged the British government to make a “clear statement” on the issue.
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