January 16, 2014 | By Sikh Siyasat Bureau
London, United Kingdom (January 15, 2014): In the British House Of Commons today, Prime Minister David Cameron was asked two questions on the 1984 Sikh Genocide with reference to the possible British involvement as seen via the released documents under the 30-year rule.
PM David Cameron answered these questions as part of his normal House duties where on a Wednesday, MPs are able to put questions to him on any topic. PMQs (Prime Minister Question Time) is the most watched 30 minutes of proceedings in the House.
Mr Tom Watson (West Bromwich East) (Lab):
On his Amritsar inquiry, instead of ordering the civil servant to investigate, why does the Prime Minister not just ask Lords Geoffrey Howe and Leon Brittan what they agreed with Margaret Thatcher and whether it had anything to do with the Westland helicopter deal at the time?
The Prime Minister:
I fear that the hon. Gentleman might have gone a conspiracy theory too fast on this one. Look, it is very important that we get to the bottom of what happened, and that is why I have asked the Cabinet Secretary to lead this review. He will establish this urgently and establish the facts. The process is under way. I want it to be fast; I want it to find out the truth; and the findings will be made public.
I remember and will never forget my visit to the Golden Temple in Amritsar. It is one of the most beautiful and serene places anywhere on this planet, and what happened at Amritsar 30 years ago led to a tragic loss of life. It remains a source of deep pain to Sikhs everywhere. Prime Minister Singh, in my view, was absolutely right to apologise for what has happened, and I completely understand the concerns that these papers raise, so let us wait for the outcome of the review by Sir Jeremy Heywood.
I do not want to prejudge the outcome, but I would note that, so far, it has not found any evidence to contradict the insistence by senior Indian army commanders responsible at the time that, on the responsibility for this, it was planned and carried out solely by the Indian army. It is important to put that, but we do need an inquiry, so that we can get to the bottom of this.
Mr Pat McFadden (Wolverhampton South East) (Lab):
The Prime Minister will be aware of the grave concern among British Sikhs about the reports in recent days of UK involvement in Operation Blue Star to storm the Golden Temple. He will also be aware that the broader events of 1984 in India resulted in the deaths of thousands of innocent Sikhs and that this has left lasting grief and pain in the Sikh community here in the UK and around the world. This is an open wound, which will not heal until the full truth is told. So, on the process that the Prime Minister has set up, will he ensure that there is full disclosure of all Government papers and information from that time and that there is also, following that, a proper statement in the House, where Ministers can be questioned about this?
The Prime Minister:
I agree with the right hon. Gentleman about the deep scars that this event left and the incredibly strong feelings that exist to this day. As I say, anyone who visits the Golden Temple at Amritsar and sees what an extraordinary place of peace and tranquillity it is and what an important site it is for the Sikh religion knows how powerful this point is. We will make sure that the inquiry is held properly and its findings will be made public, which is vitally important. In the end no one should take away the responsibility for these events from the people who are properly responsible for them, and I am sure that the inquiry will find that. In terms of making a statement and revealing this information and the findings to the House, I will listen carefully to what he says, but a statement might well be the right approach.
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