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HindustanTimes Fri,19 Sep 2014

No evidence to link UK elite force, Bluestar: Cameron

Prasun Sonwalkar, Hindustan Times  London, January 15, 2014
First Published: 23:01 IST(15/1/2014) | Last Updated: 23:03 IST(15/1/2014)

British Prime Minister David Cameron on Wednesday told the House of Commons that there was no evidence so far that the SAS (special air service) was involved in the 1984 Operation Bluestar, adding that the action was planned and carried out by the Indian army.

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Responding to questions by Labour MPs Tom Watson (East Bromwich) and Pat McFadden (Wolverhampton South East) - both constituencies with a large minority of Sikhs - Cameron said during the 'Prime Minister's questions' that he wanted to quickly find out the truth about the SAS involvement.

Two documents of February 1984, de-classified and released this month, sparked off a furore over suggestions that India had asked, and Britain had agreed to provide, advice from the elite force (SAS) months before Operation Bluestar was launched in June 1984.

Cameron asked the members of Parliament to wait for the ongoing inquiry to be completed and promised to make it public. The PM said he did not want to prejudge the "urgent inquiry" being conducted by Jeremy Haywood, cabinet secretary, to establish the facts.

"So far, it (the inquiry) has not found any evidence to contradict the insistence by senior Indian army commanders responsible at the time that, on the responsibility for this, it was planned and carried out solely by the Indian army," Cameron added.

Recalling his visit to Amritsar in February last year, he said the Golden Temple was a place of peace and tranquillity. He stated that it was "right" that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had apologised in the Indian Parliament for what had happened.

McFadden said Operation Bluestar had left an "open wound" and that British Sikhs were concerned about the recent revelations of SAS collusion. He said the "wound" would not heal until the full truth came out.

In a letter to foreign secretary William Hague, Watson asked questions about the revelations: "Was the cabinet informed? Which ministers took the decision to give military support? How many personnel were involved? Was there a UK military presence in a operational, logistical, observational or advisory capacity during the siege at Amritsar?"

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