Golden Temple in Amritsar, India. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The BBC News reported today that British military advice was given to India ahead of the 1984 deadly attack on a Sikh temple but it had only “limited impact”, MPs have been told.
Foreign Secretary William Hague was delivering the findings of a review into claims an SAS officer helped Delhi plan the raid which killed hundreds.
The storming of the Golden Temple in the city of Amritsar was intended to flush out Sikh separatists.
Mr Hague said UK assistance was “purely advisory” and given months beforehand.
The inquiry was launched last month after declassified documents were said to suggest Margaret Thatcher’s government was involved in planning the raid, called Operation Blue Star.
Official figures put the death toll at 575, but Mr Hague said other reports suggested “as many as 3,000 people were killed including pilgrims caught in the crossfire”.
The investigation, carried out by Cabinet Secretary Sir Jeremy Heywood, involved searching 200 files and 23,000 documents.
Prime Minister David Cameron said: “I hope the manner in which we have investigated these dreadful events will provide some reassurance to the Sikh community, here in Britain and elsewhere.”
Retired Lt Gen Kuldeep Singh Brar, who led Operation Blue Star, maintains he had no advice or support from Britain.
“If some things went around months earlier or weeks earlier with other agencies, intelligence agencies, I am not aware of them,” he told the BBC.
“From the time I was given command of Operation Blue Star until I planned it and executed it, let me emphatically tell you that there was no involvement whatsoever as far as the British are concerned.”
Indira Gandhi assassinated
Indira Gandhi is elected as the first female Prime Minister of India (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
David Cameron ordered the review last month after Labour MP Tom Watson said he had seen papers from Margaret Thatcher “authorising Special Air Services (SAS) to work with the Indian government”.
Mr Watson cited two letters released under the 30-year rule. He said a 1984 letter from the prime minister’s office stated that a British adviser had “visited India and drawn up a plan” which had been approved by the Indian government.
The Sikh separatists at the Golden Temple in 1984 had demanded an independent homeland – called Khalistan – in Punjab.
In October 1984 Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was assassinated by her Sikh bodyguards in what was thought to be a revenge attack for what happened at the Golden Temple.
A month later, more than 3,000 people were killed in anti-Sikh riots across India.