India denies UK role in Operation Bluestar, says only army involved
India has rubbished and rejected reports that the British Government played a cladestine role during Operation Bluestar to flush out Sikh militants from the Golden Temple premises in Amritsar in June 1984.
External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid told media here that as per government records thre is no evidence to suggest that the British Government or its defence ministry had a role to play in the operation.
"Our records don't indicate anything," said Khurshid.
Khurshid maintained that the whole operation was managed by the army.
"Lt.Gen. Brar has also clarified it was an army operation. The operation was planned by the army entirely," he said.
Khurshid's statement came as British Foreign Secretary William Hague issued a statement that London did advise New Delhi on planning the deadly attack against separatists in the Golden Temple at Amritsar in 1984, which in turn has sparked off protests by Sikh bodies in India.
British Prime Minister David Cameron ordered a review into the matter last month after the government inadvertently released official papers suggesting that Margaret Thatcher, then prime minister, had sent an officer from the elite SAS special air service to advise India on the raid.
The unplanned release upset British Sikhs, whom Cameron is courting ahead of a national election in 2015, and in India it triggered nationalist criticism of the dynastic ruling Congress party, which faces an uphill struggle to be re-elected in a national vote due by May.
Congress, under then-prime minister Indira Gandhi, was in power at the time of the raid on the Golden Temple, Sikhism's holiest shrine. It was a bloody episode that angered Sikhs around the world; they accused the Indian army of desecration.
The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) staged a protest outside the Indian Parliament on Wednesday.
One of its lawmakers, Harsimrat Kaur Badal, said: "It is not only an attack on the country's sovereignty but is an act of treason that a prime minister can do such thing. We are demanding that Indian government should put forward all letters and other facts relating to the killings and attack on Golden Temple in 1984 before the people of the country, as the UK government has done."
The death toll in the attack remains disputed, with Indian authorities putting it in the hundreds and Sikh groups in the thousands.
Denouncing the attack, the head priest of the Golden Temple, Gurbachan Singh, said: "This is most shameful for the UK government, since it has now admitted having advised the Indian government on the killing of innocent devotees. Its head should tender unconditional apology at the Golden Temple so that the Sikhs can heave a sigh of relief."
In a statement to parliament, Foreign Secretary William Hague said an official investigation by Britain's top civil servant had confirmed that an SAS officer had been dispatched to India in 1984 - at the request of the Indian government - to help plan the assault staged in June of that year.
But he said the impact of the officer's influence on the events had been limited and that the Indians appear to have disregarded the main elements of his advice.
The president of Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), Avtar Singh Makkar, slammed the UK government for the attack.
"It is condemnable that the world's known democracy had advised the Indian government on attacking the holiest place, the Golden Temple," said Makkar.
The SAS officer had advised the Indians that a military operation should only be a last resort, Hague said, and that any assault should use the element of surprise and helicopter-borne forces to try to reduce casualties.
Indian forces had not acted upon either piece of advice, he said, and there had been no link between the provision of this advice and British defence sales to India. Nor was there any record of Britain receiving advance notice of the raid.
There had been no "cover-up", he added, saying Britain had sifted through more than 23,000 official documents to establish what had happened.
The storming of the temple, aimed at flushing out Sikh separatists who demanded an independent homeland, led to the assassination of Gandhi in October 1984 when two of her Sikh bodyguards shot her in the garden of her residence.
Cameron visited Amritsar last year to express regret about another bloody incident there - a British colonial-era massacre of unarmed civilians. Politicians from all parties are keen to attract Sikh voters before Britain's general election in 2015.
(Posted on 06-02-2014)
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