March 5, 2018 | By Sikh Siyasat Bureau
London: A British tribunal will hold hearing on a Freedom of Information (FOI) request for classified UK Cabinet Office files that are believed to hold information on Britain’s involvement in the invasion of Darbar Sahib complex in June of 1984.
The three-day hearing before the First Tier Tribunal (Information) will start from 6th March 2018, Tuesday at Court 3 House, 15 Bream’s Building London.
It was in January 2014 that following the UK’s 30 years disclosure rule, the British government released top secret documents that reveled that the United Kingdom was directly involved in assisting and providing military advice through one of its Special Air Service (SAS) officer to the Indian armed forces before the massacre in June 1984 of thousands of pilgrims at Sri Darbar Sahib.
When the UK role emerged in January 2014, the Prime Minister, David Cameron realising the sensitivity and damage that could be done by the revelation of targeting of the Sikh religious minority’s holiest site and innocent pilgrims he immediately ordered an internal review by his Cabinet Secretary, Sir Jeremy Heywood.
Following which, a UK based Sikh body raised serious concerns on limitations of the internal review before it was published. Heywood’s report was produced and presented to Parliament in record time in around three weeks in February 2014 and concluded that the SAS advice had ‘limited impact’ and the ‘military advice was a one-off’.
On the other hand the report was termed as as ‘inadequate’ and a deliberate ‘cover up’ with the scope being kept narrow to give the outcome required. Despite extensive censorship subsequent disclosures in the last three years have shown the advice was not a ‘one-off’ and Parliament and the wider public were misled in February 2014 by David Cameron, William Hague and Jeremy Heywood.
Phil Miller, is now appealing against the decision of the Information Commissioner to uphold a refusal of a request made at the end of 2014 for Cabinet Office files relating to British involvement in the massacre in 1984 that were examined as part of Heywood’s review.
In November 2017, Phil Miller authored a report named ‘Sacrificing Sikhs‘ >that was an attempt at truth recovery and the first look at the government’s private account from this period of UK-Indian relations, in so far as the public are allowed access to the records.
However, more than half of Foreign Office files on India from 1984 have been censored in whole or in part.
A public inquiry will allow us to understand how much Thatcher’s decision to send a military adviser to Amritsar in 1984 was motivated by trade and arms deals worth billions of pounds. It will also establish whether the UK military advice was really a one-off or in fact it continued throughout the period, even after the tragic events of June 1984, Phil Miller reportedly said.
Moreover, the Sikh Federation (UK) is seeking an independent public inquiry into these allegations from the Foreign Office who have declined a further investigation. Further legal action in the way of a pre-action letter for judicial review by the Sikh body seems to be imminent.
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Related Topics: Indian Army, Indian Politics, Indian State, June 1984 attack on Sikhs, Operation Bluestar, Punjab Politics, Sikh Diaspora, Sikh Federation UK, Sikhs in United Kingdom, UK and June 1984 attack on Sikhs, United Kingdom