UK admits 'limited' role in Operation Bluestar

UK Foreign Secretary William Hague told parliament that an official investigation has shown Britain did advise India on planning the controversial Operation Bluestar against Sikh separatists at the Golden Temple in Amritsar in 1984. However, Hague said Britain’s advice had limited impact.

British Prime Minister David Cameron ordered a review into the matter last month after newly released official papers suggested that Margaret Thatcher, then prime minister, had sent an officer from the elite SAS special air service to advise India on the raid.

“The nature of the UK’s assistance was purely advisory, limited and provided to the Indian government at an early stage,” said Hague told Parliament. “It had limited impact on the tragic events that unfolded at the temple three months later.”

The report of the official enquiry says that three months before Operation Bluestar, the officer from SAS advised the Indian military to launch a surprise helicopter attack to flush out militants.

But the eventual assault, “was a ground assault without the element of surprise and without a helicopter-borne element”, Hague said.

The initial discovery shocked Sikhs in the UK.

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