June 14, 2014 | By Parmjeet Singh
London, United Kingdom (June 13, 2014): The Sikh Federation (UK) which is leading the campaign for an independent public inquiry has welcomed the External Affairs Minister’s ‘absolute commitment to the Sikh community’ in the Scottish Parliament earlier this week that the Scottish Government ‘will continue—to repeat its calls for the UK Government to conduct an independent, fair and transparent inquiry.’
In the debate on 10 June led by Sandra White MSP a motion was moved in support of the Sikh community’s call for an independent public inquiry into the 1984 massacre.
The motion supported on a cross-party basis, noted the sadness of the events of the 1984 attack on the Golden Temple which led to the death of thousands of innocent women, men and children.
The key demand was for the UK Government to disclose the full facts of their foreknowledge and involvement in the planning of the devastating military operation.
To his credit the External Affairs Minister, Humza Yousaf, responding on behalf of the Government in the presence of the Indian consul general, said:
‘It is right and fitting that, in the 30th anniversary year of operation blue star, the Scottish Parliament remembers all those who lost their lives, and those who continue to be affected.’
‘We know about the human tragedy that resulted from that operation and from what followed thereafter. Official figures put the death toll at 575, but other reports suggested that many more hundreds, even thousands, were killed, including pilgrims who were caught up in the crossfire.’
‘I wrote a letter to the Foreign Secretary, William Hague, on 10 March this year. I raised the real concerns of the Sikh community here in Scotland about the very narrow scope of the review.’
‘We welcome the fact that the UK Government conducted a swift review, but we believe fundamentally that the Sikh community has the right to an independent inquiry that is transparent and fair. It deserves assurance that the UK Government was in no way linked to the tragic events that happened at the Golden temple in Amritsar in 1984. We believe that that is fair and right. Such an inquiry has not happened yet, so we will continue to listen to those calls and pursue the UK Government for full transparency.’
‘The relationship with the state is a two-way thing that has to be built on trust. We and the UK Government owe the Sikh community, which we talk so highly about, the sense of closure that has been denied to it thus far. One way in which we can achieve a truly just and fair society is by fully understanding how the tragedies of the past happened. My discussions with the Sikh community have made it clear to me that it does not have a sense of closure about what happened at Amritsar 30 years ago, and it will not have that without a full understanding of the facts, which includes the role of the UK Government then.’
‘I continue to express the Scottish Government’s deepest condolences to the relatives of those who died and to those who were affected by the tragic events in 1984. I give an absolute commitment to the Sikh community that we will continue—and I, personally, will continue—to repeat its calls for the UK Government to conduct an independent, fair and transparent inquiry.’
Bhai Amrik Singh, the Chair of the Sikh Federation (UK) said:
‘Our campaign for an independent inquiry continues to grow in strength. We already had the backing of over 150 UK politicians representing some 10 million voters.’
‘In the last week we have seen:
· tens of thousands of Sikhs in central London reiterate the demand during the 30th anniversary commemoration
· the Sikh community deliver an open letter from other 200 Sikh organisations and Gurdwaras to 10 Downing Street
· a delegation led by Andy Smith, the joint-president of the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) deliver a letter to the Prime Minister setting out the union’s concerns and called for a public inquiry and full disclosure of government papers relating to the Amritsar massacre of 1984; and now
· a confirmation from the Scottish Government during a debate on Operation Bluestar that it backs an independent inquiry’
‘Next Tuesday we will be holding an event in the UK Parliament to remind MPs and the UK Government that this issue will simply not go away and we will continue in our pursuit of the truth, justice and ultimately our call for freedom.’
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