New Delhi: In what could turn into a headache for the Congress party, Britain has officially admitted that they had an advisory role in Operation Bluestar. The revelation comes even as Sikh groups are demanding an SIT probe into the 1984 riots.
However, Lieutenant General Brar who led Indian troops in the operation, has maintained that he is not aware of anything that might have transpired between the then Prime Minister of India Indira Gandhi and her UK counterpart Margaret Thatcher.
"I am not aware of any advice by UK government to India on Operation Blue Star. UK played no role "limited" or otherwise in Operation Blue Star. I came into picture on June 1, 1984 and the operation was started on June 5. I have no idea if UK advised India before that and what conversations the British government had with the Indian government," Lieutenant General Brar said.
Foreign secretary William Hague in UK Parliament on Tuesday had said that Britain advised Indira Gandhi government in 1984 to flush out militants from the Golden Temple. "Operation Blue Star was a ground assault, without the element of surprise and without a helicopter borne element. The Cabinet Secretary's report therefore concludes that the UK officer's military advise had limited impact on Operation Blue Star," he said.
Though he downplayed the involvement saying that the advice was limited and in the early stages. "The nature of the UK's assistance was purely advisory, limited and provided to the Indian government at an early stage," Hague told Parliament. "It had limited impact on the tragic events that unfolded at the temple three months later."
The debate over the 1984 riots resurfaced after a British MP recently claimed that top secret documents suggested that Margaret Thatcher's government helped Indira Gandhi plan the storming of the Golden Temple in 1984 to flush out militants from the shrine in an operation that left more than 1,000 people dead.
The Indian government has claimed that they have been in touch with the British government over the inquiry into the revelations by the declassified documents. "Since news reports on this matter surfaced a little more than 2 weeks ago, the UK government has kept the government of India informed on this matter and has also just shared the outcome of the UK government's inquiry with us. We have noted the report and the statement made," Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said.
The turn of events and the revelations could be damaging for the ruling Congress party which faces an uphill task to be re-elected in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections due by May.