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UK Sikh Diaspora outraged over British Govt’s disclosure about links with attack on Darbar Sahib

February 6, 2014 | By

London, United Kingdom (February 06, 2014): In a recently released report of Cabinet Secretary, the UK Government admitted it’s role in 1984 army attack by Indian state against the Sikhs. Though the British report and UK’s Foreign Secretary William Hague attempted to underplay the issue by saying that British advise in India’s deadly attack of June 1984 was “limited” and had “little impact”; but the Sikh diaspora is viewing these admissions more seriously.

Sikhs in UK have reacted with anger and disgust at what they see as a patronizing and whitewashing response from the UK Government to the recent 1984 document revelations.

Indian Army in Darbar Sahib complex during June 1984 attack [File Photo]

1984 Genocide Coalition and the Kesri Lehar have termed UK Government’s report as “cruel and clinical whitewash”, while expressing their disappointment over the British govt.’s response.

According to a report by Cabinet Secretary Jeremy Heywood, copy available with the Sikh Siyasat News (SSN), the decision to send a military adviser – thought to be a Special Forces (SAS) expert – to help New Delhi was deemed to be good for bilateral relations.

According to British Foreign Secretary William Hague the adviser’s recommendations were not followed and therefore had limited impact on the subsequent military operation against militants holed up in the Harmandar Sahib.

“What this event illustrates is the deep engagement of the British state – not the establishment – in the events which unfolded in June 1984 and afterwards,” Prof Gurharpal Singh of the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) at London University reportedly said.

Dr Singh, Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Humanities at SOAS, reportedly told The Tribune (TT): “The British Sikh community is going to interpret it as a betrayal of trust. And it will leave permanent scars on the Sikh-British relations”.

“In a number of key seats, especially in the West Midlands and in West London, the Sikh voters have a significant say in determining the outcome. If the Sikh political leadership in these localities does decide to mobilise on this issue, it will have a negative impact on the fortunes of the conservative candidates”, The Tribune (TT) has quoted.

“For example Piyara Singh Uppal in Wolverhampton West, the Conservative MP, will find it difficult to justify his party’s position to his Sikh constituents in a constituency which is a stronghold of the Sikh federation” TT reports further.

“It’s a wound which would take a long time to heal. There are clearly difficult months ahead as we approach the 30th anniversary of the storming of the Darbar Sahib” Dr. Gurharpal Singh reportedly added.

Other leaders of the British Sikh community have expressed their disappointment over the report made public on February 04.

UK Sikh Federation’s Dabinderjit Singh said: “We are actually very disappointed with the announcement.”

Network of Sikh Organisations director Lord Indarjit Singh described Hague’s statement as “smug and condescending”. “It is like saying that I had only a minimal involvement in a massacre or a holocaust.”

“The statement given to Parliament today, by Foreign Secretary William Hague, was, as feared, a typically self-serving, half-measured response. His statement was a rejection of full disclosure of all documentation and an explicit rejection of an independent, parliamentary enquiry.” said Jagdeesh Singh of the 1984 Genocide Coalition.

City Sikhs Network director Jasvir Singh said the information emerging from the review “harks back to colonial times,” adding, “I think there are lots of people in the Sikh community who are upset that the British could be involved in this, even to a limited extent.”

Scotland’s Glasgow Gurdwara president Surinder Singh said: “Due to the limited scope of internal inquiry, the Sikh community calls for a public inquiry into the events of 1984, covering information of the post June 1984 period. “We ask the British Government to lay out its proposals on how to recognise the events of 1984 as a genocide.”



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