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How far will UK Prime Minister go to show support for Sikhs while in India

February 18, 2013 | By

London, United Kingdom (February 18, 2013): British Prime Minister David Cameron has arrived in India and is expected to visit Amritsar on Wednesday 20 February and visit Harmandar Sahib and Jallianwala Bagh. There will be several challenging issues for David Cameron to address while in India.

The Daily Telegraph national newspaper in the UK has reported the Prime Minister is said to be considering voicing Britain’s regret for the massacre in 1919 in Jallianwala Bagh, when over a thousand peacefully protesting Sikhs, including women and children, were shot dead by British troops.

David Cameron, British Prime Minister

The Prime Minister must also decide if he will publicly condemn India for two hangings in the last three months and the growing trend to hang others. Last week the Sikh Federation (UK) wrote to the Prime Minister and got dozens of UK Members of Parliament to urge him to condemn India for the recent hangings.

Bhai Amrik Singh, the Chair of the Sikh Federation (UK) said:

‘The Sikh Nation would greatly appreciate a public apology from the British Prime Minister for the 1919 bloody massacre in Amritsar.’

‘We also have no doubt David Cameron will raise UK and EU opposition to the death penalty while in India as this is the official policy, but we suspect he will express his concerns in private and not make a public statement during this trip.’

‘However, the debate planned in the UK Parliament on 28 February for the Abolition of the Death Penalty in India will almost certainly result in disquiet and the Indian media my force David Cameron’s hand to make a public statement condemning India.’

‘We also reminded the Prime Minister last week that it is on record that he along with around another 180 UK MPs specifically supported opposition against the death penalty against Professor Davinderpal Singh Bhullar and called for his release by signing an Early Day Motion before he became leader of the Conservatives and Prime Minister.’

British Prime minister David Cameron (L) shakes hands with his Pakistani counterpart Raja Pervez Ashraf at number 10 Downing street in Central London on February 12, 2013.

Another issue that may come up is India’s own massacre in Amritsar in June 1984. An apology for the 1919 Amritsar massacre will make it possible for David Cameron to show public sympathy towards the Sikhs for the events of June 1984 when the Indian Army used tanks and artillery to attack the Harmandir Sahib Complex and kill thousands of innocent Sikh pilgrims.

The Sikh Federation (UK) letter to David Cameron last week referred to June 1984 and asked him to reflect on this when he experiences the peace and tranquillity when he pays his respects at Darbar Sahib.

It will not be lost on David Cameron, that when in opposition the Conservatives raised two separate Early Day Motions on the 25th anniversary of the June 1984 and November 1984 massacres.

Another issue that may complicate David Cameron’s visit is his unusually strong declaration of support for Pakistan last Tuesday when he told the country’s Prime Minister, Raja Pervez Ashraf, at 10 Downing Street that, “your friends are our friends, and your enemies are our enemies”.

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