UK Says it had Only an 'Advisory, Limited Role' in Operation Bluestar

The UK did send a military adviser to India at the initial stage of planning of Operation Bluestar, but his recommendations had only a “limited impact” on the final plan to flush out the terrorists from the Golden Temple, according to London’s Foreign Secretary William Hague

Published: 05th February 2014 09:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 05th February 2014 09:00 AM   |  A+A-

The UK did send a military adviser to India at the initial stage of planning of Operation Bluestar, but his recommendations had only a “limited impact” on the final plan to flush out the terrorists from the Golden Temple, according to London’s Foreign Secretary William Hague.

Citing Cabinet Secretary Jeremy Heywood’s report, Hague told the House of Commons on Tuesday that the nature of the assistance was “purely advisory, limited and provided to the Indian government at an early stage in its planning”. “The UK military officer’s advice had limited impact on Operation Bluestar,” he told MPs. It was following a request from PM Indira Gandhi that the UK Government led by Margaret Thatcher dispatched a military adviser, who was in India from February 8-17, 1984. Operation Bluestar took place three months later from June 5-7.

Meanwhile, Union Ministry of External Affairs  spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said that London had kept New Delhi in the loop on the matter in the wake of the media reports following the release of new archival material.

He noted that the outcome of the UK government’s inquiry was also shared with India. “We have noted the report and the statement made,” he added. The UK report also did not find any link between “provision of the advice and defence sales”, referring to the then ongoing talks for New Delhi’s purchase of Westland helicopters. Further, it said there was “no record of the (UK) government receiving advance notice of the (Bluestar) Operation”, despite London requesting prior intimation.

Interestingly, the UK government and Hague referred to the militants holed up at the Golden Temple as “dissidents” or as “armed dissidents” in one place. The chief UK envoy  said, “understandably, members of the Sikh community around the world still feel the pain and suffering caused by these events.” At the same time, the UK report made it clear that its terms of reference was not to “pass judgements” on Operation Bluestar or its consequences. More than 200 files and 23,000 documents were examined during the investigation, but only a “very limited number of documents related to Operation Bluestar” were found.

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