David Cameron has ordered an inquiry into claims that Britain’s Conservative government of the 1980’s helped India plan and execute the infamous 1984 raid against Sikh separatists at the Golden Temple in Amritsar.
It comes after official government papers recently released suggest that the government of Margaret Thatcher approved sending a member of Britain’s elite Special Air Service commandos to advice the Indian government on the raid, called ‘Operation Blue Star’.
The operation to flush out militants led by Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale was ordered by Prime Minister Indira Gandhi who enjoyed a deep friendship with Thatcher.
The attack in the early hours of 3 June left hundreds of people dead according to Indian authorities although Sikh groups claim the death toll is in the thousands.
The assault also triggered the assassination of Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi who was killed by her two Sikh bodyguards in revenge several months later.
The governemtn papers, released under the 30-year rule and published on the Stop Deportations blog, indicate that Mrs Thatcher was aware of the involvement of an SAS officer in drawing up a plan – although it is not clear whether the Indian army operation followed this advice.
The request for British advice is disclosed in a letter, dated February 23 1984, from Brian Fall, private secretary to then foreign secretary Geoffrey Howe, to Hugh Taylor, his counterpart under home secretary Leon Brittan.
However, Lieutenant General Kuldeep Singh Brar, the man who headed the Operation and who was targeted in a revent attack by militant Sikhs in London in 2012, dismissed the claims that Britain may have helped the Indian army.
General Brar, who was the target of a revenge attack by Sikh militants in London in 2012, told India’s DNA news agency that the assault was an Indian operation.
“No assistance was taken from anyone. Operation Bluestar was planned and executed by the Indian Army. Is that a genuine document? It has to be probed by the government. The basis of the document must be investigated,” he said.