British foreign secretary William Hague has said that the UK provided military advice to India ahead of a deadly attack against Sikh separatists in 1984. But Hague said that the advice had limited impact.
The storming of the Golden Temple at Amritsar triggered the assassination of then Indian prime minister Indira Gandhi. Sikh groups put the death toll in the thousands, and Indian authorities in the hundreds
In comments made to the British House of Commons, Hague said: “Operation Blue Star was a ground assault, without the element of surprise and without a helicopter-borne element. The cabinet secretary’s report therefore concludes that the UK officer’s military advice had limited impact on Operation Blue Star.”
“The nature of the UK’s assistance was purely advisory, limited and provided to the Indian government at an early stage, that it had limited impact on the tragic events that unfolded at the temple three months later, that there was no link between the provision of this advice and defence sales, and there there is no record of the government receiving advance notice of the operation,” Hague added.
Official papers, recently declassified, suggested then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher sent an elite SAS officer to advise the Indians on the raid. Last month, current Prime Minister David Cameron ordered a review into the matter.
Sikh groups put the death toll in the thousands, and Indian authorities in the hundreds.
The storming of the temple was aimed at flushing out Sikh separatists who demanded an independent homeland.