Report affirms Thatcher and Gandhi colluded on Operation Blue Star
Sikhs ask for full disclosure on 1984 and beyond
By Anju Kaur, SikhNN staff writer, Washington Bureau
Posted: Thursday, February 06, 2014 | 01:14 pm
The UK report shows UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher supported Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi's plan to eradicate a small percentage of Sikh dissidents using a warlike operation from a historic shrine beloved by all Sikhs.
Photo Source: SikhNN
On Feb. 21, 1984, the SAS officer filed a detailed report on his visit and high-level recommendations. His report will not be released to the public for national security reasons.
On Feb. 23, 1984, a summary of the SAS officer’s report was included in a formal Foreign and Commonwealth Office report sent to Thatcher’s office. It stated that the SAS officer had “drawn up a plan, which has been approved by Mrs. Gandhi.”
Heywood disavowed recent Indian media stories that the SAS officer’s plan was called Operation Sundown, designed to detain Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale.
“There is no mention of Operation Sundown in UK files,” Heywood writes. “Nor do those interviewed recall that name. Nor was the UK military adviser’s report of February focused on a “snatch” operation. The plan it focused on was designed to re-establish control over the temple complex,” the report says.
The British requested from the Indians a prior warning of any operation, so that they could make security arrangements in London. The Indians never sent a warning, the report says.
Between June 4 and June 7, 1984, Gandhi executed the final Operation Blue Star plan, which had morphed from a paramilitary operation into a full army assault at Darbar Sahib, with heavy constraint of other historical gurdwaras of Punjab. The entire state was cut off from the rest of the world.
On June 13, 1984, the official Indian account states that the invasion of Darbar Sahib involved armor and light artillery to support the methodic clearance of dissidents by army troops from the ground, not from helicopters, the report says. But it did not state that helicopters were not used at all.
Around that time, an undated letter between the Indian Intelligence Coordinator and a UK official indicates that some time after the SAS officer left India, the Indian army took over lead responsibility for the operation, the report says.
“The main concept behind the operation changed, and a frontal assault was attempted,” the report says.
On June 14, 1984, Gandhi sent a letter to Thatcher justifying her decision to use the army. The Indian paramilitary forces were insufficient in number so the army had to be sent, she said, according to the report.
In July 1984, a former British officer recalled being told by an Indian intelligence official that the Indian Special Operations Group and the army did not have the helicopter capabilities for a simultaneous assault, the report says.
The simultaneous assault took place on the ground, instead, with Indian army soldiers.