British PM plays down role in India Golden Temple assault

15th January 2014, Comments 0 comments

Prime Minister David Cameron on Wednesday said there was no evidence so far that British special forces played a role in India's 1984 Amritsar Golden Temple assault.

Cameron ordered an inquiry after previously secret documents showed that former premier Margaret Thatcher approved sending an officer from the elite Special Air Service (SAS) to advise the Indians on the raid.

"I don't want to prejudge the outcome, but I would note that so far it has not found any evidence to contradict the insistence by senior Indian army commanders responsible at the time that the responsibility for this was carried out solely by the Indian army," Cameron told parliament.

"I think it is important to put that, but it is important to get to the bottom of this."

He said the assault left "deep scars" and "incredibly strong feelings that exist to this day".

At least 500 people were killed in the June 1984 raid to flush out militants who had occupied the Golden Temple in Amritsar, northwest India -- considered Sikhdom's holiest shrine.

India's prime minister Indira Gandhi was assassinated by two Sikh bodyguards four months later in revenge.

Newly declassified government letters show New Delhi had requested British advice and that an SAS officer travelled to India, where he helped draw up a plan which was approved by Gandhi in February 1984.

Retired lieutenant-general K. S. Brar, who led the assault, said on Tuesday that it was the first he had heard of any British involvement.

Cameron said the results of the inquiry would be made public.


© 2014 AFP

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