The Sikh Council UK has organised and led a meeting of Sikh representatives with the Cabinet Secretary, Sir Jeremy Heywood to discuss UK Government involvement in the 1984 attack by the Indian army on Sri Harmander Sahib, Amritsar.
Sir Jeremy Heywood has been asked by the Prime Minister to review all Government documents and speak to surviving people named in the documents to understand why and for what purpose the UK was involved and to determine what actually happened and who authorised any decisions at the time.
Secretary General of the Sikh Council UK, Gurmel Singh said, “We are very grateful to Sir Jeremy Heywood for meeting with us prior to completing his inquiry. The meeting was extremely useful as it served to clarify the remit and limitations of his inquiry. The meeting also allowed us to put across the concerns of the Sikh community and emphasise the importance of disclosure and transparency.”
He added, “We left the meeting reassured that the inquiry will likely be completed imminently and reported to the Prime Minister. We were also reassured the inquiry will likely recommend publication of further documents by the Government.”
Present in the meeting were representatives of Sikh Council UK and other Sikh organisations including Sikh Organisation for Prisoner Welfare, Keshri Lehar, 1984 Genocide Coalition, youth organisations, Shiromani Akali Dal UK, Shiromani Akali Dal Amritsar and Sikh Federation (UK).
Chair of Indian Sub-Continent Affars Sub-Committee of Sikh Council UK, Cllr Gurdial Singh Atwal said, “We understand the inquiry has considered and examined documents in the period up to the June 1984 attack on Sri Harmander Sahib. The Sikh community would naturally like to see further disclosure of documents and transparency to cover the period after the attack in June 1984. There are events and occurrences in the following months and years that continue to impact on Sikhs here and abroad.”
Midlands Regional Co-ordinator for Sikh Council UK, Jagtar Singh Gill said, “The meeting allowed the community to collectively articulate the strength of feeling within the community. National Youth Representative, Kam Singh and SOPW representative, Harminder Kaur gave particularly heartfelt accounts of the hurt and distress within the community over these revelations, the events of 1984 and the ongoing effects to this day. Kam Singh also took the opportunity to request that correct terminology is used for Sri Harmander Sahib.”
He added, “We will now await publication of the report and hopefully publication of further documentation which will allow the community to make an informed judgement regarding the involvement of the UK Government in the attack by the Indian army on Sri Harmander Sahib.”
Four points were requested by Sikh Council UK in the meeting which Sir Jeremy Heywood agreed he and the Government will consider:
1. To publish the Terms of Reference to his inquiry.
2. To meet with representatives of the Sikh community following publication of his report to allow clarifications.
3. To consider extending the remit of his inquiry to consider events after June 1984 or to put in place a mechanism to allow for ongoing disclosure and transparency.
4. To work with the Sikh community to redefine the relationship between UK Sikhs and UK Government.