Today more than 2,000 Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and Cabinet Office records have been released to the National Archives.
The release of FCO files today from 1985 reveals the Chief of Army Staff of the Indian Army, General Vaidya who planned Operation
Blue Star in June 1984 received a confidential briefing from the British Army earlier in 1984 about counter-insurgency equipment to crush domestic unrest in Punjab, the Sikh homeland.
This latest revelation casts serious doubt on the internal review commissioned by the then Prime Minister, David Cameron in January 2014 from the top civil servant, Sir Jeremy Heywood.
The hurriedly announced internal review completed in record time came following an inadvertent disclosure under the 30-year rule of SAS involvement in the deadly Indian army assault on Sri Harmandir Sahib (popularly referred to as the Golden Temple Complex) in June 1984.
Leading Sikh organisations, like the Sikh Federation (UK), have consistently described the Heywood review as a cover up and the latest
information will increase calls for an independent public inquiry. Politicians are increasingly supporting this campaign with the Labour Party calling for “an independent inquiry into Britain’s military role in the 1984 raid on the Golden Temple in Amritsar” in its General Election manifesto. The release of files today to coincide with Parliament going into recess will not have been lost on politicians.
Phil Miller the researcher working with the Sikh Federation (UK) who also made the original find in January 2014 has disclosed the
UK Government is hiding almost a third of historic files that could shed light on SAS involvement in an Indian para-military crackdown on Sikhs in their homeland.
Bhai Amrik Singh, the Chair of the Sikh Federation (UK) said:
“It now emerges General Vaidya who led the Indian army operation in 1984 received confidential briefing on counter-insurgency the same year. Sadly this suggests there was direct British Army involvement in assisting in the 1984 Sikh Genocide when tens of thousands of innocent Sikhs were killed and disappeared throughout the Sikh homeland.”
“With a third of files being kept secret the Foreign Office is doing its best to hide the truth, but the picture that is gradually emerging suggests it is only a matter of time before Ministers are forced to agree to an independent
judge-led public inquiry.”
“It is clear to us the Heywood review was woefully inadequate. We believe a majority of MPs in Parliament are
on our side with the Labour Party and Scottish National Party now on record and a sufficient number of Conservative MPs having previously told us they support our campaign.”
“The public deserve to know the truth of UK involvement in the 1980s in the 1984 Sikh Genocide and all forms of assistance provided to the Indian authorities to try and eliminate Sikh calls for freedom and justice.”
Preet Kaur Gill, the first female Sikh MP and chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for British Sikhs, said:
“Clearly this would suggest that the Heywood review was a whitewash – he had access to these files but failed to mention that Britain briefed India’s top brass on counter-insurgency.”
“The government’s refusal to release so many records from 1985, including another file about India’s National Security Guard, is a huge cover-up. It will cause a backlash from Britain’s Sikh community who need to know if the SAS trained this unit.”
Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi, the first turban wearing Sikh MP, said:
“It is absolutely ridiculous that our government is still trying to cover up what happened three decades ago. We should have full disclosure so the public can make up their own minds about what happened. The new revelations highlight what many of us have said about the Heywood Review for years – the Tory government is brushing
things under the carpet. Justice needs to be delivered for those countless individuals who have suffered such great loss.”
Preet Kaur Gill added that her cross-party group for British Sikhs would also “strongly consider this latest development”.