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Vandalised

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A landmark statue of Mahatma Gandhi in the UK has been vandalised in the city of Leicester apparently in protest against the 1984 Operation Blue Star military raid on the Golden Temple.

GRAFFITI: Vandals sprayed the Mahatma Gandhi statue in Leicester in protest against Operation Blue Star which took place in India in 1984

GRAFFITI: Vandals sprayed the Mahatma Gandhi statue in Leicester in protest against Operation Blue Star which took place in India in 1984

Graffiti saying ‘Never forget 84’ and ‘We want justice #84’ were sprayed on the base of the statue in Leicester's famous Golden Mile of Indian-origin restaurants and shops.

It is believed that the messages are in reference to Operation Blue Star in June, 1984, when the Golden Temple in Amritsar was raided by the Indian Army to flush out Sikh extremists holed up inside.

Police are investigating the case after the vandalism was reported on Saturday. Sikhs from Leicester and around the UK on Sunday marched through London to mark the 30th anniversary of the siege.

Reacting to the incident, Leicester East MP Keith Vaz said damaging the Gandhi statue was ‘foolish’.

“To think that somebody has felt it necessary, either an individual or a group of people, to vandalise in this foolish and idiotic way, such an important part of the heritage of India, as well as the heritage of Leicester, I think is a disgrace,” he said.

Operation Blue Star saw a reported 400 people killed, including 87 soldiers yet Sikh groups have argued that the figure is a misrepresentation and that thousands actually died in the conflict.

Just over four months after the attack, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, who gave the go ahead for the attack, was killed by her Sikh bodyguards in revenge. Despite similar names, Mahatma Gandhi was not in any way related to the assassinated former leader.

Leicester City Council workers removed graffiti from the plinth of the bronze monument the following day.

Leicestershire Police is treating the incident as criminal damage and has appealed for anyone with information about the incident to contact them.

‘Investigate Bluestar or we boycott votes’

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Sikhs in Britain have launched a mass letter-writing campaign asking Prime Minister David Cameron to launch a large-scale inquiry into the country's role in the planning and execution of the 1984 Operation Bluestar by the Indian army to flush out militants from the Golden Temple.

Sikh Federation UK has warned that thousands of Sikh voters could boycott Conservative party candidates at next year's general election unless Cameron agrees to a large-scale probe into Britain's role in the operation in Amritsar.

LEADER: Amrik Singh, chair of Sikh Federation UK, has warned that MPs who don’t back the inquiry may face losing votes from Sikhs in their constituencies

LEADER: Amrik Singh, chair of Sikh Federation UK, has warned that MPs who don’t back the inquiry may face losing votes from Sikhs in their constituencies

“We already have the support of over 50 politicians for an independent public inquiry. In the next few days this number will increase to over 100,” Amrik Singh, chair of Sikh Federation UK, told the Sunday Telegraph.

“Many Conservative politicians in Labour target seats but not supporting the inquiry are under pressure as we have started to gain the support of prospective candidates who are their main rivals,” he claimed.

Britain's estimated 700,000 Sikhs live in areas which include some marginal constituencies in parts of London, Birmingham and the wider West Midlands and their vote is decisive in an election.

DESTROYED: The Harmandir Sahib, also known as the Golden temple, was all but destroyed during Operation Bluestar, yet has now been redeveloped

DESTROYED: The Harmandir Sahib, also known as the Golden temple, was all but destroyed during Operation Bluestar, yet has now been redeveloped

Worshippers at gurdwaras across the country will be urged to write to their MPs demanding that they back calls for a full public inquiry, the report said.

MPs who refuse to support the call are likely to be banned from gurdwaras and will face losing the votes of Sikhs in their constituencies, the Federation has warned.