It’s Important to Read Between the Lines

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Jas Sansai Talks about Operation Blue Star

Prime Minister David Cameron conveyed a number of Vaisakhi wishes to British Sikhs this week. The warm messages were timed to mark the festival of Vaisakhi, a very special time of the year for the world’s youngest religion, Sikhism.

It’s important to read between the lines whenever a politician, with one eye on a looming general election addresses a particular group of people.

Documents released earlier this year revealed Conservative Government involvement in Operation Blue Star, the Indian Government’s attack on The Golden Temple in 1984. For British Sikhs, including many Tory voting Sikhs, this publication represents a betrayal too far.

In June 1984, the Indian Government under leadership of Indira Gandhi, instigated a bloody assault on The Golden Temple in Amritsar. Many innocent worshippers and pilgrims, present that fateful day lost their lives in a place considered sacred. The Golden Temple is the beating heart of Sikhism.

Sir Mark Tully was one of the first press party to witness the aftermath of The Golden Temple attack. Here’s how he described the scene:

‘There were blood stains on the marble pavements, and the white walls were peppered with bullet holes. The library, containing invaluable manuscripts including copies of the Sikh scriptures, the Guru Granth Sahib, handwritten by some of the Gurus themselves, were a charred ruin.’

Mark Tully: India’s Unending Journey. 2007

The documents released under a 30 year rule leave no doubt Conservatives, led by Margaret Thatcher authorised the provision of military advice ahead of the merciless attack.

Marking their own homework again, an internal investigation cleared the Tories of any wrong doing. The Prime Minister announced the findings, hosted a Vaisakhi reception at Number Ten and tweeted about the invaluable contribution of British Sikhs!

When the Prime Minister speaks about the contribution of British Sikhs, I can’t help but think of tax yields from the Sikh community being used to contribute to the costs of advising the Indian Government to send tanks into The Golden Temple.

The revelation that a Conservative administration advised the Indian Government on the attack makes me ponder, who put the Blue into Operation Blue Star?

The Conservatives will be in Birmingham for their Autumn Party Conference later this year. It will be the final conference before the General Election.

On Monday 29th September 2014, I’ve organised a Tory Fringe meeting to raise this issue with the party. The objective is to lobby the Government to commit to holding an Independent, Judge Led Inquiry into the full extent of the advice given to the Indian Government ahead of Operation Blue Star. A commitment to which they can offer a Yes or a No. To put the internal inquiry into context, it took 16 months to investigate Maria Miller’s expenses but only 16 days to investigate the Conservative Government’s involvement with Operation Blue Star. 16 days to search in excess of 23,000 documents.

I appreciate such an inquiry would be expensive but the cost represents only a fraction of the tax yield contributed in the UK by the Sikh community.

A body called Sikhs4Labour was established in March 2014. This article is not a call to arms to vote Labour. You never know, if the Tories commit to holding an Independent Inquiry, some of the UK’s 430,000 Sikhs may even feel comfortable voting Conservative in May 2015.

May I take this opportunity to wish Sikhs here in the UK and abroad a very Happy Vaisakhi.

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