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1st Muharram 1436 | Saturday, Oct 25, 2014
World

British Sikhs urged to boycott Downing Street reception

Monday, 7 April 2014
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London, April 07:

Sikh groups in Britain have urged the community to boycott the annual Downing Street Baisakhi reception by the British prime minister this month to protest against the findings of the government's probe into Operation Bluestar in Amritsar city's Golden Temple in 1984.

The Network of Sikh Organisations (NSO), a Sikh body that links 130 UK gurdwaras and other UK Sikh organisations, has urged the Sikhs in Britain to shun the Baisakhi celebrations, marking the Sikh New Year, at 10 Downing Street this year, The Huffington Post reported Monday.

The British government under Prime Minister David Cameron had launched an investigation in February this year, into alleged assistance by a British officer to Indian authorities during Operation Bluestar in the Golden Temple in 1984.

The report by British Cabinet Secretary Jeremy Heywood in February found that the nature of the British assistance was purely advisory, limited and provided to the Indian government at an early stage.

The NSO, headed by Lord Indarjit Singh of Wimbledon, described the British government's review of Operation Bluestar as "deeply hurtful to Sikhs", and insensitive to others concerned with human rights.

"UK Sikhs are deeply disappointed by the UK government's attitude to Sikh human rights," said NSO in its statement.

"We believe that it will be a betrayal of still grieving families in India, for UK Sikhs to participate in a UK government celebration that not only ignores their trauma and suffering, but also ignores the underlying commitment to human rights central to the festival of Baisakhi," the statement said.

Meanwhile, according to a Downing Street spokesman, the PM has been looking forward to welcoming members of the Sikh community to Downing Street to celebrate Baisakhi.

The Sikh Federation UK, a political group, claimed that the list of invitees to the function had been "thinned out" over the issue.

The federation has been canvassing support for "an independent inquiry into the full extent of the UK's involvement", while claiming the support of 120 British politicians in the matter.

It termed the British government's report as "limited in scope".

The organisation's chair, Bhai Amrik Singh, said: "The Sikh Federation (UK) criticised the internal review before it was published, because the terms of reference for the review were too narrow. We have been asking for a dialogue with the prime minister to discuss the merits of an independent public inquiry. The prime minister has declined to respond to this request."

Earlier in February this year, the Sikh Federation UK had warned the Conservative Party candidates of boycott by significant Sikh voters in next year's general elections unless Cameron agreed to a large-scale probe into Britain's role in Operation Bluestar.

Operation Bluestar left more than 1,000 people dead.
(IANS)

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