Britain betrayed us by advising Indira Gandhi on her fatal raid against militants barricaded in Amritsar’s Golden Temple, say Sikh leaders
By Georgia Graham, and Dean Nelson in New Delhi
6:54PM GMT 14 Jan 2014
Britain’s involvement in the massacre of hundreds of Sikh separatists in an Indian temple in 1984 will be urgently investigated, David Cameron has ordered.
Previously secret documents released by the Government have shown that a SAS officer was drafted in to help the Indian authorities with plans to remove dissident Sikhs from the Golden Temple at Amritsar, Sikhism’s holiest shrine.
The plan was ordered with the full knowledge of then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher the documents say. Hundreds of Sikhs were killed in the attack.
Yesterday Sikh leaders said the revelations amounted to the British Government ‘backstabbing” and have called for all documentation surrounding the attack to be released.
In an operation called “Blue Star” Indian troops attacked the temple in June 1984 with an official death toll of 492 militants, pilgrims and soldiers. The country was plunged into some of the worst communal violence in its history following the attack. Sikh activists claim thousands died in the operation.
An Indian Sikh devotee takes a dip in the holy sarover (water tank ) at the Golden Temple (Getty Images)
The assault triggered the assassination of Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, who ordered the attack, when two Sikh bodyguards killed her in revenge several months later.
A No. 10 spokesman said that Mr Cameron and William Hague, the Foreign Secretary, had been unaware of the papers and that the events at the Golden Temple led to a “tragic loss of life” and that the papers raise “very legitimate concerns.”
David Cameron’s official spokesman said that an inquiry, led by Jeremy Heywood the cabinet secretary, would focus on whether the documents should have been released to the public and “establish all the facts as quickly as possible.” He would not set a timetable for the inquiry to report.
The letters were released in January as one of 500 documents from the Cabinet Office and the Prime Minister’s office lodged in the National Archive thirty years after their original publication.