The Golden Temple in Amritsar

A SENIOR UK diplomat apologised on Tuesday (1) after he incorrectly identi­fied a Sikh temple as a mosque in northern India.

Simon McDonald, permanent un­der-secretary at the Foreign and Com­monwealth Office, had tweeted on Monday (30) referring to a picture of the “Golden Mosque” in Amritsar, northern India.

After the error was made, the UK Sikh Federation gave McDonald 24 hours to apologise to the Sikh commu­nity for calling the Sikhs’ holiest shrine a “mosque”. However, McDonald real­ised his mistake and quickly apolo­gised, writing: “I was wrong: I am sorry. I should of course have said the Golden Temple or, better, Sri Harmandir Sahib”.

Bhai Amrik Singh, chairman of the Sikh Federation, said: “This was a ma­jor gaffe by a top civil servant and to­tally unacceptable. It demonstrates a remarkable level of ignorance from someone in his position.”

The mistake is particularly sensitive because of suspicions of British in­volvement in the Indian army’s deadly 1984 raid on the Golden Temple.

At least 400 people were killed in the Indian army’s attack on the temple, which was aimed at flushing out armed separatists demanding an independent Sikh homeland.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has vowed that if he were to become prime minister, he would launch an inde­pendent investigation to address Brit­ain’s role during the raid.