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#PROTEST: Sikh groups call for boycott of Prime Minister’s Vaisakhi reception

A leading British Sikh group has called for Sikhs to boycott a Vaisakhi reception with Prime Minister David Cameron in protest at the government’s response to a report about Britain’s involvement in the Golden Temple massacre of 1984.

A government report last month revealed that the then-government of Margaret Thatcher may have provided military advice to India prior to the raid on Sikkism’s holiest shrine which left more than 3000 people dead.

Following the report, David Cameron had said there was “absolutely no evidence” of UK government involvement.

The Network of Sikh Organisations, headed by Lord Indarjit Singh of Wimbledon, is now calling for Sikhs to snub the Vaisakhi gathering at Number 10 to voice their concern.

The NSO said via a written statement: “UK Sikhs are deeply disappointed by the UK government’s attitude to Sikh human rights.

“While the present government cannot in any way be held responsible for support given by a predecessor government of 30 years ago, the present government’s statement that the assistance then given was ‘only minimal’, was deeply hurtful to Sikhs, and insensitive to others concerned with human rights.

“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 Vaisakhi.”

The Sikh Federation claimed that the list of invitees at Wednesday’s function had been ‘thinned out’ to exclude those who might want to press the Prime Minister for a commitment to an inquiry, such as Narinderjit Singh, the General Secretary of the Federation.

The Federation, meanwhile, is calling for an independent inquiry into the full extent of the UK’s involvement.

Campaigners want to know specific support provided by the then-UK government to the Indian authorities and on what basis this was given; to what extent British advice was acted on; and the role the Foreign Office had with regards to its warnings to British citizens about the dangers of travelling to the Punjab in 1984.

On Tuesday, the All Parliamentary Party Group for UK Sikhs and the British Sikh Consultative Forum will host a parliamentary event in the House of Commons.

Both Cameron and Labour leader Ed Miliband are expected to speak at the event.

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