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Monday 11 December 2017

Britain to probe claims SAS officer played key role in Temple massacre

Amritsar Temple
Amritsar Temple

Raphael Satterr

The British government ordered an urgent investigation into the possibility that a UK officer played a key role in the deadly June 1984 raid on India's Golden Temple after declassified documents suggested a special forces officer advised the Indians on how to carry out the attack.

The storming of the Golden Temple in Amritsar was one of the most violent episodes in the Indian government's battle against Sikh separatists.

Papers recently made public detailed a secret advisory mission to India by an unnamed officer from the Special Air Service (SAS), one of Britain's most elite military units.

It is not clear whether the Indians followed the officer's plan, but the allegation that Britain played a role in the raid is explosive because the attack was spectacularly bloody, leading to hundreds of deaths.

In a statement, the UK government acknowledged that the raid "led to a tragic loss of life and we understand the very legitimate concerns that these papers will raise".

British prime minister David Cameron has ordered an investigation.

"Any requests today for advice from foreign governments are always evaluated carefully with full ministerial oversight and appropriate legal advice," the statement added.

The Indian army's attack on hundreds of heavily armed Sikh separatists barricaded inside the Golden Temple led to massive loss of life and a breakdown in communal relations across India. Later that year, Indian prime minister Indira Gandhi was assassinated by two Sikh bodyguards, and the country was swept by a wave of anti-Sikh rioting.

Irish Independent

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