UK COVERED UP PLAN FOR SAS SUPPORT TO INDIA AFTER AMRITSAR MASSACRE
The British government considered SAS assistance for the Indian military just weeks after the 1984 Amritsar massacre, a fact omitted from an official review ordered by former Prime Minister David Cameron in 2014, fresh evidence obtained by the Sikh Federation (UK) reveals.
KRW LAW LLP, on behalf of the Federation, has now written to Home Secretary Amber Rudd demanding an independent investigation into Britain’s role in one of the darkest periods in Sikh history, after new evidence was discovered at The National Archives at Kew in London.
Since the discovery, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has removed dozens of files from The National Archives about the massacre. The move comes as Theresa May makes her first visit to India as Prime Minister to promote trade.
The letter claims a Review by Cabinet Secretary Sir Jeremy Heywood in February 2014 was inadequate and Parliament was misled by its inaccurate findings. The Heywood Review stated that the UK provided ‘limited’ military advice to India in early 1984, with an SAS officer carrying out reconnaissance of the Sri Harmander Sahib complex (‘Golden Temple’) months before the June 1984 massacre.
However, new evidence shows that by July 1984, the British government had received “an Indian request for military assistance in the setting up of a National Guard for internal Security duties” The FCO then considered “the possibility of an SAS involvement”. The rest of the correspondence is redacted and the FCO has withheld a 1984 file titled ‘Indian National Security Guard’.
The secret discussions occurred in the immediate aftermath of the Operation Blue Star massacre, in which an estimated 7-8,000 Sikh pilgrims died, and while the associated Operation Woodrose crack down on Gurdwaras was still under way throughout Punjab, India’s National Security Guard (NSG) was formed in July 1984 and its official website states that “The NSG was modelled on the pattern of the SAS”. The unit went on to lead Operations Black Thunder I and II, which consisted of further assaults on the Sri Harmandir Sahib in 1986 and 1988.
However, when the Heywood Review was published in 2014, then Foreign Secretary William Hague told Parliament that “one of the questions raised is whether there could have been British Military involvement in subsequent operation Black Thunder I and II. From everything that the Cabinet Secretary has seen having examined hundreds of files – 200 files – the answer to that is no”.
The documents were discovered by archivist Phil Miller who is assisting the Sikh Federation (UK). Mr Miller also found the documents in 2014 that triggered the Heywood Review.
Chair of the Sikh Federation (UK), Bhai Amrik Singh, said:
“This shows that Parliament was deliberately misled by then Foreign Secretary William Hague 2014 when he hid the fact that more SAS military assistance for India was considered weeks after the Sikh Genocide in Amritsar in June 1984. The Heywood Review was inadequate and the content and conclusions presented to Parliament were inaccurate.”
“Sikhs around the world will be outraged at the cover up by Cameron, Hague and Heywood more than 30 years later. The abrupt recall of dozens of FCO files about India from 1984 will raise eyebrows and shows that the whitewash continues. The FCO know the Heywood Review did not deliver the truth and are nervous with what we have found.”
“The British government of today needs to now come clean and not be tarnished by the ‘deadly’ special relationship between Margaret Thatcher and Indira Gandhi. Theresa May’s visit to India is an opportunity for a fresh start. We hope she will be bold and agree to give the British public and Parliament the truth of the full extent of military and other support to the Indian authorities in the 1980s that was used to target the Sikh minority.”
Darragh Mackin, Solicitor at KRW LAW LLP, said:
“The discovery of this fresh evidence yet again casts the spotlight on the British Government for their role in the atrocities committed against the Sikh community at Amritsar in June 1984. “This recent discovery further undermines the effectiveness of the original Heywood Review, and it is against this backdrop that we have asked that immediate action is taken to ensure that an effective and independent investigation is commissioned without further delay.”
“We have corresponded directly with the Home Secretary and the FCO to ensure that urgent action is taken to first address the fact that Parliament was misled, and secondly to provide an effective and independent investigation without further delay.”
Notes for Editors:
- Any queries should be directed to the Sikh Federation’s solicitor, Darragh Mackin, KRW Law, at firstname.lastname@example.org or +447976070023.
- The letter to the Home Secretary and Foreign and Commonwealth Office is available on request.
- The NSG also lead further assaults in Punjab such as Operation Black Hawk, a heliborne operation in 1988, and Operation Mouse Trap in 1989.