Shiromani Akali Dal demands apology from UK for Op Bluestar

Agitated parliamentarians of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) on Wednesday protested against the United Kingdom’s role in Operation Bluestar even as British Prime Minister David Cameron termed the action to flush out militants from the Golden Temple in Amritsar a “great tragedy”.

SAD leader and Punjab Chief Minister Prakash Singh Badal has demanded an unconditional apology from the British government a day after it was confirmed that the United Kingdom had a “limited” and “purely advisory” role in Operation Bluestar.

The protesting MPs slammed the Congress both for Operation Bluestar and for the large-scale violence against Sikhs in Delhi in 1984.

“Thirty years ago, a great tragedy unfolded at the Sri Harmandir Sahib in Amritsar. Many lives were lost and the scars in the Sikh community still run deep,” Cameron said. 

His remark came a day after British Foreign Secretary William Hague told the Parliament that the UK’s assistance to India in Operation Bluestar was purely advisory and limited and provided to the Indian Government at an early stage of New Delhi’s planning to carry out a military campaign to flush out militants from the Golden Temple.

Cameron had ordered the inquiry after newly declassified secret documents revealed that an officer of the elite Special Air Service visited India to offer advice for the move against militants who had moved into the Sikh shrine in Amritsar.

“Around four months before the events, at the request of the Indian government, a single UK military officer provided some advice. But critically, this advice was not followed, and it was a one-off,” Cameron said in a video-message to the British Sikh community late on Tuesday.  

SAD MP Harshimrat Kaur told journalists in New Delhi that the Congress government headed by Indira Gandhi first allowed arms to enter the Golden Temple, waited till the situation escalated and then carried out the operation to ensure political gains for the ruling party. “It is unfortunate that things were allowed to go out of hand and all this for political gains. This whole thing was premeditated and pre-planned,” she told journalists. 

Balbir Punj, vice president of the BJP, said that the government must take the country into confidence about what happened.

“The Government of India got in touch with Britain, sought its help in dealing with its own people. After all, all those people in the Golden Temple at the time of Operation Bluestar were our people. This is really shameful that the government had chosen to take help from the UK to deal with what was our internal problem,” said Punj.

Bahujan Samaj party chief Mayawati too said that the Congress government headed by Indira Gandhi should not have taken advice from another country and should have dealt with the situation on its own through talks.

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