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UK FOI Judge Orders Declassification of Secret Documents Disclosing British Involvement in June 1984 Indian Army Attack on Sikhs

June 12, 2018 | By

London: A UK judge has reportedly ordered the declassification of documents related to British involvement in Indian Army’s attack on Darbar Sahib in June 1984. The judge passed this order yesterday (June 11) while dismissing the British government’s argument that the move could damage diplomatic ties with Indian state.

Judge Murray Shanks, who presided over a three-day hearing of the First Tier Tribunal (Information Rights) in London in March, ruled that a majority of the files relating to the period must be made public and rejected the UK government’s argument that declassifying the Downing Street papers would damage diplomatic ties with India.

The judge, however, did accept that one file marked “India: Political, from the UK’s Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC)”, could contain information that relates to British spy agencies MI5, MI6 and GCHQ (Government Communications Headquarters) and therefore the Cabinet Office was entitled to rely on a technicality that exempts such material from the Freedom of Information (FOI) request appeal.

The FOI appeal was handled by KRW Law on behalf of freelance journalist Phil Miller, who has been investigating the exact nature of the then Margaret Thatcher led government’s assistance to the Indian government for army attack on Darbar Sahib in Amritsar in June 1984.

In 2014, UK government documents declassified under the 30-year rule to make such material public had revealed British involvement in the attack.

Then British Prime Minister David Cameron had ordered a review into these disclosures. It was the Heywood Review, which led to a statement in Parliament declaring that Britain’s role had been purely advisory and the advice provided by the country’s Special Air Service (SAS) had limited impact in practice. But the statement did not satisfy the concerns of Sikhs, who have been demanding complete disclosure on this issue.

But Sikh Federation UK released a report titled ‘Sacrificing Sikhs: The need for an investigation‘ compiled by Phil Muller last year, demanding full transparency on the issue of Britain’s involvement in Ghallughara (holocaust) 1984. The Sikh Federation UK has been demanding full, transparent and independent inquiry into this matter.

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