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Britain to lift turban ban at high-risk workplaces

Press Trust of India  |  London 

Britain is set to scrap a ban on turbans at high-risk workplaces next week, a move that some Sikh groups see as a "sweetener" to deal with the fallout of the Margaret Thatcher government's alleged role in Operation Bluestar in 1984.

The Department for Work and Pensions is to announce that Sikhs will no longer be forced to wear hard hats inside factories and warehouses.

British Sikhs have complained about the law since it was introduced in 1989 as it allows them to wear turbans on building sites but has required hard hats in other high-risk areas.

However, some Sikh groups questioned the timing of the government's announcement, which coincides with an ongoing inquiry into Britain's alleged role in Operation Bluestar, the Indian Army's operation to flush out militants from the Golden Temple in Amritsar.

Documents recently declassified by the National Archives pointed to the Thatcher's collusion with her Indian counterpart Indira Gandhi in planning the raid on the Golden Temple.

Amrik Singh, chairman of the Sikh Federation UK, claimed the move could be a "sweetener" to deal with the fallout of the allegations, which are being probed by Cabinet Secretary Jeremy Heywood on the instructions of British Prime Minister David Cameron.

"There's an old political saying that 'timing is everything' in politics. This long overdue closure of a loophole in employment law is welcome, yet it will do little to assuage the great concern that the government of 2014 may refuse to reveal the truth about the government of 1984," he said.

The Sikh Council UK has organised a series of meetings in prominent Sikh-inhabited areas like Southall, Ilford, Wolverhampton and Leeds over the weekend to update the community on the recent disclosures, said a statement from the organisation.

Noting that the letters released by the National Archives were dated several months before Operation Bluestar, the Sikh Council UK said: "The community wants to know what else were the UK government saying and doing over all that time.

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First Published: Sat, January 25 2014. 20:26 IST