British Prime Minister David Cameron has directed his Cabinet Secretary to look into the claims that London’s elite Special Air Service (SAS) had advised India on Operation Bluestar, carried out at the Golden Temple in Amritsar to flush out the Sikh militants holed up there.
According to a top secret note now declassified by the National Archives in London, the SAS had advised then Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi on the modalities of carrying out such an operation, three months before Bluestar was launched in June 1984. The document dated February 23,1984, with the subject line ‘Sikh Community’ is addressed to Hugh Taylor, private secretary to the then UK Home Secretary. Only four copies were made of the document classified ‘top secret and personal’.
“The Indian authorities recently sought British advice over a plan to remove Sikh extremists from the Golden Temple. The Foreign Secretary has decided to respond favourably and with the PM’s agreement an SAS officer has visited India and drawn up a plan which has been approved by (Indira) Gandhi. The Foreign Secretary believes that the Indian Government may put the plan into operation shortly,” it said.
Labour MP Tom Watson and Lord Indarjit Singh had demanded an explanation after the recently declassified documents threw light on the SAS’ role in the operation, which claimed over 1,000 lives.
“The Prime Minister has asked the Cabinet Secretary to look into the case urgently and establish the facts. The PM and Foreign Secretary were unaware of these papers,” a UK government spokesperson said.
The documents being referenced were released by the National Archives in London under the 30 year declassification rule as part of a series over the New Year. The Sikh Council UK on Tuesday called for an urgent inquiry into the matter. “I am shocked and disappointed that there could have been any involvement by the UK government in planning the attack on the Golden Temple Complex,” said secretary general Gurmel Singh.
The US-based Sikhs For Justice rights group demanded that the UK Parliament should immediately pass a resolution stating that Thatcher’s decision to collude with Indira in attacking the Sikh shrine was wrong. The demand for resolution is being backed by Sikh organisations from the UK, US, Canada, Australia, Germany & Italy and Switzerland.