The military commander who led Operation Bluestar to flush militants from the Golden Temple in 1984 has rubbished claims that UK special forces advised and assisted the Indian operations even as Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley said the government has to `tell us the truth as to what the real facts were’.
With a row breaking out after a UK MP claimed he possessed declassified documents dated February 1984 that `reveal’ that Margaret Thatcher’s government had aided India in the Operation Bluestar by sending in an advisor from the British SAS special forces, Lt Gen (Retd) K S Brar said he is `surprised and aghast’ about the matter.
“It sounds like fiction to me. I can assure you that Operation Bluestar was planned and executed by the Indian Army. There is no question of any foreign, British assistance or the SAS planning the operations for us,” the retired officer, who survived a murder attempt by a radical Sikh group in London in 2012, told The Indian Express.
On Monday, British Prime Minister David Cameron had directed his Cabinet Secretary to establish the facts behind claims. “These events led to a tragic loss of life and we understand the very legitimate concerns that these papers will raise. The Prime Minister has asked the Cabinet Secretary to look into this case urgently and establish the facts,” a UK government spokesperson said in a statement issued here on Monday night.
Jaitley too has reacted to the claims by the UK lawmaker and demanded that the government reveal the entire facts of the case to avoid embarrassment from further declassification of British papers in few months time now. “It is about time that the Government of India decided to tell us the truth as to what the real facts were. This would enable the people of India to conclude whether ‘Operation Blue Star’ was a strategic miscalculation,” Jaitley demanded reminding the government that “in the next few months, more documents between the period February to June 1984 would become public on account of the expiry of the limitation of 30 years” to throw more light on the British help during those days.
The claim that an SAS advisor was sent by Thatcher to India on the request of Indira Gandhi has been made by a UK lawmaker who says he has seen unclassified documents that reveal an exchange of mails between top UK officials in 1984 that discussed the need to keep the matter confidential, lest it have an effect on the Sikh community in UK.
While the documents, said to be declassified earlier this month by the National Archives in London under the 30-year rule, have been put up by the Stop Deportations blog, there has not yet been an official confirmation of their authenticity. Based on these claims, Jaitley has charged that the then Congress government was in “dialogue with the British Government on the plan to remove the dissident Sikhs from the holy Golden Temple” to apprehend that the then Congress regime “neither believed in nipping the problem at the initial stage nor in exploring alternative methods of evacuating the extremists from the Golden Temple. It wanted to invade the sacred precincts of the Golden Temple no matter even if it hurt the national interest and certainly the interests of the Sikhs”.
However, Lt Gen Brar believes that there are ulterior motives to the ‘revelation’. “I am very surprised that something so malicious as this has been brought out just when elections are due here. I do not know if this is politically motivated or a move to get the British Sikhs agitated once again,” he said. The top officer added that `there is no question of any British government emissary coming to plan or execute the operation’, asserting that the authenticity of the declassified documents needs to be ascertained.
In Punjab, the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal said this had exposed a “major conspiracy” of the Congress against Sikhs. “The party (Congress) had even gone to the extent of compromising the national sovereignty for political gains,” SAD secretary Daljit Singh Cheema said in a statement in Chandigarh.
In the wake of ongoing controversy, the Radical Sikh outfit Dal Khalsa has written a letter to British Prime Minister David Cameron, expressing its pain, concern and anguish over the “revelations” that Margaret Thatcher’s government might have helped Indira Gandhi plan Operation Bluestar in 1984. The letter written by party’s spokesperson Kanwar Pal Singh has been sent through the High Commissioner in New Delhi. The letter has sought details of the secret deal, urged the British PM to give a “clear statement” on the issue.
(With PTI inputs)