Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn has written to prime minister Theresa May calling for a “fresh, independent investigation” into Britain’s alleged involvement in the “appalling” Operation Blue Star in 1984.
Corbyn’s letter to Downing Street, dated January 4, follows what he describes as “significant representations” from a wide range of representatives from the British Sikh community demanding details of the full extent of the UK’s alleged role in the military action on Golden Temple in 1984.
“Given concerns regarding the effectiveness and integrity of the January 2014 review, I believe we must consider a fresh, independent investigation into this episode in British history.
“It is clear to me from my discussions with Sikh groups in the UK that there remains significant resentment that over the 30 years since this most appalling event, questions remain about the role which the UK played,” his letter reads.
In 2014, then prime minister David Cameron had ordered the Heywood Review into the exact nature of British involvement in the Indian Army 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.
Corbyn’s letter notes: “This review was felt by many to be inaccurate and the presentation of its conclusions to Parliament in February 2014 to be misleading. A valuable opportunity to bring greater transparency to this was lost with the recall of 33 FCO [Foreign & Commonwealth Office] India files from 1984, which had only been released late in August 2016 after 32 years (contrary to the 30-year rule).
“This recall came within a matter of weeks of the files being released, depriving those interested of the opportunity to fully review their contents – and sending a signal that the government is not committed to transparency.”
Making a reference to May’s India visit last November as highlighting the importance she attaches to “building and maintaining positive relations with India,” Corbyn called May to revisit the issue and commission an
“independent investigation” and re-release the recalled files in the interest of transparency.
A spokesperson for Corbyn said the opposition leader is yet to receive a response to the letter from Downing Street.
Meanwhile, Sikh Federation UK welcomed the move with its chair Bhai Amrik Singh expressing his gratitude to Corbyn.
“We are grateful the Labour leader has written to Theresa May to call for a fresh, independent investigation and deliver the British public transparency. British Sikhs will continue to call for transparency and this can only be delivered through an independent investigation that has full access to all relevant papers,” he said.
Sikh Federation UK has maintained the files recalled by FCO hold further information on the issue and has launched an appeal for the secret documents to be made public.