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Labour Calls for Inquiry into UK’s Role in June 1984 Attack on Darbar Sahib

June 17, 2024 | By

London: Deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner and Labour candidate for Coventry South, Zarah Sultana, have called for an inquiry into Britain’s involvement in the June 1984 attack by Indian army on the Darbar Sahib and Akal Takht Sahib in Amritsar, marking the 40th anniversary of June 1984. The attack, codenamed as ‘Operation Blue Star’ by the Indian state, is regarded by Sikhs as ‘Teeja Ghallughara’- third holocaust of Sikh history.

Angela Rayner took to X (formerly Twitter) on June 2 to express her support for the Sikh community, stating, “As we mark the 40th anniversary of the raid on the Golden Temple, Labour stands with the Sikh community in calling for an inquiry into the historic role Britain played. A Labour govt will work to determine the best way to find out the truth.”

Zarah Sultana echoed Rayner’s sentiments, highlighting the ongoing secrecy surrounding the UK government’s involvement. She wrote on X (formerly Twitter) on June 2, “40 years ago today the Golden Temple in Amritsar — one of the holiest sites in Sikhism — was raided. Hundreds were killed. The role Thatcher’s government played in this has been shrouded in secrecy. I stand with the Sikh community in calling for an inquiry to reveal the truth.”

Despite the release of classified documents in January 2014 implicating the UK government, no independent public inquiry has been conducted into Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s involvement in Operation Blue Star. The documents revealed that Britain had sent an SAS officer to India in February 1984, ahead of the operation, to help devise a plan to “remove ‘Sikh extremists’ from the Golden Temple,” at the request of Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.

In response to these revelations, former Prime Minister David Cameron commissioned the Heywood Review, which was published in February 2014. The review examined over 23,000 documents and concluded that there was no record of any UK assistance to the June 1984 operation beyond “limited military advice provided in mid-February.” The review stated, “The recommendation and decision to agree this request were based on advice from the British high commission that it would be good for the bilateral relationship, whereas refusal would not be understood by Mrs Gandhi. There were significant differences between the actual June operation, and the advice from the UK military officer in Feb. The actual operation implemented by the Indian Army differed significantly from the approach suggested by the UK military officer.”

The Sikh diaspora in the UK has dismissed the Heywood Review as a whitewash, arguing it failed to fully disclose the UK’s involvement in Operation Blue Star. They believe crucial details were overlooked or omitted, prompting renewed calls for a thorough and independent inquiry. The community seeks accountability and a complete understanding of the events that profoundly impact Sikhs worldwide.

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