Sikh group to UK tribunal: Release Operation Blue Star files

About 70 Sikh pilgrims from England have been rescued by Pakistani security forces. Photograph:( Others )

PTI London, United Kingdom Dec 29, 2016, 03.01 PM (IST)

A UK-based Sikh campaign group today said it has launched an appeal to make public the secret files believed to hold details of Britain's alleged involvement in the 1984 Operation Blue Star that killed hundreds of people.

Sikh Federation UK's appeal with the UK's Information Tribunal will be heard in the New Year.

It centres around four files "withheld" during an official UK government inquiry ordered by former prime minister David Cameron into Britain's alleged involvement in the military action on Golden Temple in 1984.

"The first tier tribunal will consider this case in the New Year and it would be inappropriate to comment any further," a UK Cabinet Office spokesperson said.
The files include one titled "UK/Indian relations: situation in Punjab; activities of Sikh extremists; proposed visit to UK by Rajiv Gandhi in June 1985".

The other documents include a Joint Intelligence Committee file on India; one with details of then British PM Margaret Thatcher's meetings with a close adviser of Indira Gandhi; and other papers under "India: Political" related to events around Mrs Gandhi's assassination in October 1984.

Sikh Federation UK, which believes the closed files will shed more light on the extent of Britain's alleged involvement in the military operation in Amritsar, had earlier complained to the UK's Information Commissioner to make these documents public but it was decided to keep the files closed as they were "too sensitive".

The group has now issued an appeal against this decision on the grounds that the Commissioner did not take into account the "thousands of civilian casualties during the Amritsar massacre as a public interest factor in favour of disclosing the information".

It claims the decision to keep the documents secret is "political" rather than security related and that the "public has a right to know what happened 30 years ago".
Bhai Amrik Singh, chair of Sikh Federation UK, said in a statement: "This shows the lengths we are having to go to try and get to the truth and why we believe an

independent public inquiry is necessary to get to the information the UK government will continue to withhold.

"We will take legal and other steps in 2017 to get to the truth of UK involvement and the ongoing conspiracy against Sikhs. Working with like-minded Sikhs in Punjab we will expose the role of Akali leaders, the Congress and BJP in the attempted genocide of the Sikhs to simply hold on to power."

In 2014, Cameron had ordered the Heywood Review into the exact nature of British involvement in the operation at Golden Temple in June 1984 after documents released previously under the 30-year declassification rule had implied British SAS commanders had advised the Indian government as it drew up plans?for the removal of militants from the Sikh shrine.

The report concluded that the nature of the UK's assistance was "purely advisory" and provided to the Indian government at an early stage of planning.

(PTI)