FaithWorld

UK to investigate possible SAS role in 1984 Indian Golden Temple attack

By Reuters Staff
January 14, 2014

(Devotees throng the holy Sikh shrine of Golden Temple to offer prayers for the New Year, in the northern Indian city of Amritsar January 1, 2014. REUTERS/Munish Sharma)

Britain is to investigate newly released official papers which suggest the government of Margaret Thatcher helped India plan a deadly attack against Sikh separatists in the Golden Temple at Amritsar in 1984.

Prime Minister David Cameron ordered the review after an opposition Labour party lawmaker asked the government to disclose whether the papers were genuine and whether Britain had any role in the attack on Sikhism’s holiest shrine.

Sikh groups said they were shocked and disappointed by the idea that Britain may have been involved in the Golden Temple attack, a bloody episode which angered Sikhs around the world who accused the Indian army of desecration.

The raid also remains a blot on the record of India’s dynastic ruling Congress party, which faces an uphill struggle to be re-elected in national polls due by May.

The party is widely expected to announce Rahul Gandhi, grandson of Indira Gandhi who was prime minister at the time of the attack, as its candidate for the post this week.

The nationalist opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which some opinion polls say is the favorite to form the next government, criticized Congress over the 1984 incident.

“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,” Arun Jaitley, the BJP’s leader in the upper house, said of Indira Gandhi’s government in a blog posted on Tuesday.

The death toll remains disputed, with Indian authorities putting it in the hundreds and Sikh groups in the thousands.

The storming of the temple, aimed at flushing out Sikh separatists who demanded an independent homeland, triggered the assassination of Indira Gandhi. Two of her Sikh bodyguards shot her in revenge for the assault four months later.

Read the full story by Andrew Osborn here.

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