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British report admits complicity of armed attack on Darbar Sahib, but attempts to under mine the issue

February 4, 2014 | By

London, United Kingdom (February 04, 2014): British Foreign Secretary William Hague confirmed on February 04, 2014 that Britain had advised the then Indian government ahead of the June 1984 attack on Harmandar Sahib (Darbar Sahib, Amritsar) by the Indian army but attempted to undermine the issue by saying that Britain had no operational involvement in Operation Bluestar.

The results of a government review into whether the SAS were involved in the 1984 Amritsar massacre were made public amid criticism from Sikh groups that it has been too narrowly focused.

It may be recalled that in June 1984 Indian army had attacked more than three dozen Sikh Gurdwaras, including Darbar Sahib (Amritsar). Army had used tanks to destroy physical structure of Akal Takht Sahib and the Sikh Reference Libaray was reduced to ashes.

A view of Darbar Sahib Amritsar after June 1984 massacre [File Photo]

Thousands of Sikhs were massacred by the army in this attack that was codenamed as “operation blue star”.

Recently, some retired officials of Indian government admitted the fact of Nazi style killings of Sikh hostages by Indian army during June 1984 in TV interviews aired in June last year by Day and Night News.

Making a statement in the British parliament, William Hague cited the report filed by the British cabinet secretary following instructions from Prime Minister David Cameron to investigate the matter.

William Hague observed that two papers released January 13, 2014 to the public by the National Archives raised speculations about Britain’s involvement in Operation Blue Star.

A view of Akal Takht Sahib during June 1984 attack [File Photo]

A view of Akal Takht Sahib during June 1984 attack [File Photo]

He said: “Within hours of the documents coming to light, the prime minister instructed the cabinet secretary to carry out an urgent investigation in four critical areas: Why advice was provided to the Indian authorities, what was the nature of that advice, what impact it had on Operation Blue Star, and whether parliament was misled.”

According to Hague, the investigation found that the British government in February 1984 did receive an “urgent request (from the then Indian government) to provide operational advice on Indian contingency plans for action to regain control of the temple complex”.

After getting the green signal from the British high commission in New Delhi, the British government sent a military adviser to India.

“He (the cabinet secretary) has established that a single British military adviser travelled to India between Feb 8 and 17, 1984, to advise the Indian intelligence services and special group on contingency plans that they were drawing up for operations against armed dissidents in the temple complex, including ground reconnaissance of the site,” he said.

Indian Army in Darbar Sahib complex during June 1984 attack [File Photo]

“The adviser’s assessment made clear that a military operation should only be put into effect as a last resort, when all attempts at negotiation had failed. It recommended including in any operation an element of surprise and the use of helicopter-borne forces, in the interests of reducing casualties and bringing about a swift resolution.”

Hague said that after the British military adviser’s visit in February, the Indian Army took over lead responsibility for the operation and the main concept behind the operation changed.

“The cabinet secretary’s report includes an analysis by current military staff of the extent to which the actual operation in June 1984 differed from the approach recommended in February by the UK military adviser. Operation Blue Star was a ground assault, without the element of surprise, and without a helicopter-borne element,” he stated.

The cabinet secretary’s report, he said, found “that the nature of Britain’s assistance was purely advisory, limited and provided to the Indian government at an early stage”.

“It had limited impact on the tragic events that unfolded at the Golden Temple three months later, there was no link between the provision of this advice and defence sales and there was no record of the government receiving advance notice of the operation,” he added.

“But I hope this investigation and the open manner in which it has been conducted will provide reassurance to the Sikh community, to this House, and to the public, and in that spirit I present it to the House,” Hague concluded.

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