LONDON, Britain—Shortly after the UK Court’s direction to Cabinet office to declassify documents pertaining to the June-1984 holocaust, it has come to fore that the then UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher made several attempts to ban protests erupted in the country following the third holocaust.
It has been found in some newly declassified documents that Thatcher’s foreign secretary, Sir Geoffrey Howe, wanted Scotland Yard to ban protests planned by British Sikh groups, because the protests by Sikhs were considered as a serious risk for Indo-British relations as well as the law & order situation in the UK.
“It will also further intensify the Indian government’s resentment against the UK and unwillingness of HMG (Her Majesty’s government), as they see it, to do anything to curb the activities of Sikh extremists in this country. Contracts which would be potentially at risk from a trade boycott amount to some 5 billion pounds,” reads a note to the Home Office by Leonard Appleyard, Geoffrey Howe’s private secretary.
It is noteworthy here that the UK was eager to sell its Westland helicopters to India as well as other lucrative arms contracts in 1984.
At one point, Howe even contemplates a change to the UK’s Public Order Act 1936, which prevents a ban on protests unless they pose a threat to public order.
“There are some disturbing details in the new documents about how some British politicians tried to disregard the civil liberties of UK Sikhs in order to secure trade with India. But overall it is now clear that the Cabinet Office has managed to avoid releasing any more material about Operation Blue Star,” said Phil Miller, the investigative journalist who had sought the declassification of the documents through a freedom of information (FOI) request.
“I think many people will be disappointed by the small scale of disclosure in this case after years of legal proceedings. This highlights the shortcomings of the UK’s Freedom of Information Act, which desperately needs more powers to allow journalists to probe the intelligence and security agencies, as they can in the US,” said Miller, the author of ‘Sacrificing Sikhs: The need for an investigation’ report released last year.