Britain to investigate possible SAS role in Indian Golden Temple attack

Declassified documents suggest Margaret Thatcher's government may have helped India plan the attack.


Reuters January 14, 2014
An Indian Sikh devotee takes a dip in the holy sarover (water tank) during the Maghi Mela at the Sikh Shrine Golden Temple in Amritsar on January 14, 2014. PHOTO: AFP

LONDON: Prime Minister David Cameron has ordered an investigation into official papers which suggest the British government of Margaret Thatcher helped India plan an attack against Sikh separatists in the Golden Temple at Amritsar in 1984.

The attack on Sikhism's holiest shrine angered Sikhs around the world who accused the Indian army of desecration. The death toll remains disputed, with the Indian authorities putting it in the hundreds and Sikh groups in the thousands.

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.

Recently released British government papers from the time, publicised by Tom Watson, an opposition Labour party lawmaker, suggest Thatcher responded positively to an Indian government request for advice on planning the attack and sent an officer from the elite Special Air Service (SAS) to help draw up a plan.

A spokesperson for Cameron's office said on Tuesday the British prime minister had ordered an investigation as a result.

"These events led to a tragic loss of life and we understand the very legitimate concerns that these papers will raise," the spokesperson said. "The Prime Minister has asked the Cabinet Secretary to look into this case urgently and establish the facts."

Jeremy Heywood, the cabinet secretary, is Britain's top civil servant. Cameron and Foreign Secretary William Hague had been unaware of the papers prior to their publication, the spokesperson added. Syed Akbaruddin, a spokesperson for India's foreign ministry, said his government was only aware of the story from the media.

"We will take it up with our UK counterparts and seek more information," he told Reuters TV.

COMMENTS (24)

Gurion | 7 years ago | Reply

@goggi (Lahore):

Can you please enlighten us illiterate Pakistanis with your divine dharmic knowledge, from where the word Hindu or India originates?

"Hindu" is what the invaders referred the native Indians as. Indians themselves never referred themselves with that name till it came into popular use. Despite the above fact, your post absolutely makes no logical sense and is lacking in intellect.

darbullah | 7 years ago | Reply

@assad: Quality counts more than quantity. See Israel as an example. History does not matter a great empires like Greek, roman,Egyptian are now not strong.

VIEW MORE COMMENTS
Replying to X

Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.

For more information, please see our Comments FAQ

E-Publications

Most Read