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UK British PM orders probe into Thatcher link to Operation Bluestar (UPDATED)

Discussion in 'Breaking News' started by aristotle, Jan 14, 2014.

  1. aristotle

    aristotle
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    LONDON: British Prime Minister David Cameron has directed his cabinet secretary to establish the facts behind claims that Margaret Thatcher's government may have helped Indira Gandhi plan Operation Bluestar in 1984.

    Labour MP Tom Watson and Lord Indarjit Singh had demanded an explanation after recently declassified documents indicated that Britain's Special Air Service (SAS) officials had been dispatched to help India on the planning on the raid of the Golden Temple to flush out militants from the shrine, an operation left more than 1,000 people dead.

    "These events led to a tragic loss of life and we understand the very legitimate concerns that these papers will raise. The Prime Minister has asked the cabinet secretary to look into this case urgently and establish the facts," a UK government spokesperson said in a statement issued here yesterday night.

    "The PM and the foreign secretary were unaware of these papers prior to publication. Any requests today for advice from foreign governments are always evaluated carefully with full ministerial oversight and appropriate legal advice," he added.

    The documents being referenced were released by the National Archives in London under the 30-year declassification rule as part of a series over the New Year.

    A letter marked "top secret and personal" dated February 23, 1984, nearly four months before the incident in Amritsar, titled 'Sikh Community', reads: "The Indian authorities recently sought British advice over a plan to remove Sikh extremists from the Golden Temple in Amritsar.

    "The foreign secretary decided to respond favourably to the Indian request and, with the Prime Minister's agreement, an SAD (sic) officer has visited India and drawn up a plan which has been approved by Mrs Gandhi. The foreign secretary believes that the Indian government may put the plan into operation shortly."

    "These documents prove what Sikhs have suspected all along, that plans to invade the Golden Temple went back months even though the Indian government was claiming even weeks before that there were no such plans," Lord Singh, also the director of the Network of Sikh Organisations in the UK, told.

    "I have already approached the Indian government through the high commission of India for the need of an independent international enquiry to establish the exact facts. I will now raise the issue in the House of Lords," he added.

    Some of the documents have been reproduced on the 'Stop Deportations' blog which focuses on Britain's immigration policy and claim Thatcher sent SAS officials to advise Mrs Gandhi on the operation. "I've only seen the documents this morning (Monday) and am

    "I've only seen the documents this morning (Monday) and am told there are others that have been withheld. This is not good enough. It is not unreasonable to ask for an explanation about the extent of British military collusion with the government of Indira Gandhi," Watson, an MP for West Bromwich East, said.

    He has written to UK foreign secretary William Hague and plans to raise the issue in the House of Commons.

    "I think British Sikhs and all those concerned about human rights will want to know exactly the extent of Britain's collusion with this period and this episode and will expect some answers from the foreign secretary.

    "But trying to hide what we did, not coming clean, I think would be a very grave error and I very much hope that the foreign secretary will...reveal the documents that exist and give us an explanation to the House of Commons and to the country about the role of Britain at that very difficult time for Sikhism and Sikhs," he added.

    Five months after Operation Bluestar, Gandhi was assassinated by her Sikh bodyguards in retaliation for the raid on the Golden Temple.

    (Source: http://www.timesofindia.com/world/u...o-Operation-Bluestar/articleshow/28771352.cms)
     

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    #1 aristotle, Jan 14, 2014
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  3. AngloSikhPeace

    AngloSikhPeace United Kingdom
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    Never trust a Tory.
     
  4. Parma

    Parma United Kingdom
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    Its not the cuts or the bruises or the lies and the hurt they inflict on us Sikhs that hurts! Although the hurt and the pain they cause on us is, indescribable! Chardi Kala! What hurts the most is even still they are not understanding the true essence of the beloved Waheguru=God. Guru Granth Sahib ji teaches us we are all the same, (nobodies perfect, we are all learning= Sikhs) yet the others don't understand the same and so they show no Shame! O Sada Salarmath Nirankar!
     
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  5. spnadmin

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    Anglo Sikh Peace ji - There is actually a blog article to the same point you have made.

    Margaret Thatcher and the Golden Temple: will British Sikhs ever vote Tory again?

    By Will Heaven

    http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/w...mple-will-british-sikhs-ever-vote-tory-again/

    Did Margaret Thatcher's government send an SAS officer to tell the Indian government how best to raid the Golden Temple, the Sikhs' holiest shrine?

    It's an incendiary claim – and not yet a proven one. But the 1984 raid, called Operation Blue Star and carried out by the Indian Army to remove dissidents from the Golden Temple, resulted in hundreds of deaths, devastating damage to the temple and ultimately the assassination of Indira Gandhi, India's prime minister, later that year (as well as the horrendous anti-Sikh pogroms which ensued after her death in Delhi). Though they may not sympathise with the dissidents' aims, Sikhs all over the world still feel very strongly about the raid and its consequences.

    That's why this claim is being taken so seriously by David Cameron, who has ordered Sir Jeremy Heywood, the Cabinet Secretary, urgently to investigate possible British involvement.

    The evidence for such involvement? Previously secret documents (PDF) that were released by the Government under the 30-year rule, published this week on the Stop Deportations blog and publicised by the Labour backbencher Tom Watson, whose West Bromwich constituency has a large Sikh community.

    Perhaps surprisingly, Downing Street also says the Cabinet Secretary will "look at what issues there may have been around the decisions taken to release" the papers i.e. whether they should be in the public domain at all.

    The letters are both dated February 1984 – four months before the raid – and they suggest that an SAS officer put forward a plan of action to the Indian government and that the Foreign Secretary, Geoffrey Howe, believed it would be used.

    Of course, we don't know if Operation Blue Star was in any way a British plan. Sir Mark Tully, who reported the raid for the BBC in 1984 and later wrote a book about it, doubts that the SAS had anything to do with it. According to an Indian media report, he said "it was not planned as a commando movement, and the SAS are commandos, and very soon, Operation Bluestar turned into a full-scaled infantry operation with tanks, and that it would be the last sort of thing the SAS would be involved in".

    In time, Sir Jeremy Heywood may be able to clarify how much the Thatcher government was involved. But for now, the politics of this is quite straightforward: it's very bad for David Cameron and the Tories. Only last year the Prime Minister visited Amritsar, in an apparent effort to reach out to Britain's 800,000 Sikhs, who (as the FT reported) could be decisive in marginal seats in London and Leicester at the next general election. It seemed to be going well. The UK Sikh Federation said that a community that has traditionally favoured Labour was becoming more open to other parties.

    Could a 30-year-old government document put an end to that?

    PDF documents mentioned in the article can be accessed and copied from this link http://stopdeportations.files.wordpress.com/2014/01/prem-19-1273_binder.pdf
     
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  6. spnadmin

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  7. Abneet

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    This will bring chaos to Britain's Sikh community view on their own government.....
     
  8. Parma

    Parma United Kingdom
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    No what would bring chaos, in this situation would be if the government was behind the assassination of Indra Ghandi! As Anglosikhpeace said, Never trust a Tory! Who knows?
     
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  9. AngloSikhPeace

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    Not necessarily. It is clear that the SAS plan was either not carried out, or only had a minor influence on Blue Star. The SAS do surgical, precise commando raids, not massive armoured invasions, certainly not ones that resulted in the kind of huge military casualties we witnessed in 1984. And whilst the SAS are fearsome and ruthless, they don't murder civilians for no reason, or engage in the kind of petty, vengeful torture and humiliation that Indian troops subjected captives to.

    It is entirely within reason to suspect that the SAS drew up a relatively moderate plan to invade the Akal Takht with minimal loss of life, which Indira half-heartedly okayed and then ignored anyway because it did not suit her political desires and vindictive personality.
    Sikh Siyasat today highlighted a book written in 2007 by an ex-RAW agent, a book describing 'MI5 agents' being called to give advice on Operation Blue Star. Supposedly the agents advised Gandhi that an attack would be very foolish, and told her to allow the police to sort the problem out.

    Certainly if it turns out that the actual events of Blue Star as it happened were planned or influenced by the UK then there will be total hell to pay. But if the more likely scenario is true, and the SAS had advised Indira not to go ahead with the attack or had suggested ways to avoid the total humanitarian catastrophe that resulted, then there will not be nearly as much damage. The relationship with British Sikhs might even benefit if it's discovered that the armed forces had advised against Blue Star.

    Aside from this, the fact that Britain knew about Blue Star beforehand could be damaging because British citizens were killed or hurt in the attack. The lack of forewarning might land the government in legal troubles. However, we haven't seen the rest of the letters, so we don't know whether the UK was notified in the end of the date of the invasion.


    EDIT:
    The Sikh Siyasat story I mentioned. It's a bit of a strange one. Too much 'so-and-so said this about thingymabob who is quoted as claiming this about the whatsitcalled'. But I think it does show something useful.
    http://www.sikhsiyasat.net/2014/01/15/mi-5-officials-had-visited-darbar-sahib-on-request-of-indira-gandhi-before-1984-attack-on-request-of-indira-gandhis-advisor-r-n-kao-book/
     
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  10. AngloSikhPeace

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    Hah, Tories. Regardless of how they manage this I will never vote for them. It is a tribal thing here. Nottingham miners distrusted Scargill and split from the main union. They decided not to strike, and carried on going to work. To this day people here get called 'scabs' for that. How did Thatcher reward this? She closed all Nottinghamshire's mines anyway.

    So Nottingham will never respect Thatcher, and the working-class people here assume the same backstabbing qualities of every Conservative politician.
     
  11. Parma

    Parma United Kingdom
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    The way they treated us Sikhs is nothing really compared to the treatment the Scottish, Welsh and Irish have received over the decades! Still proud to be British though what else can you say its our home! Will you never know when they start digging for stupid things you never know what they'll find. It is best to leave the past in the past and move on and improve be Sikhs learn from the past, otherwise there is no future for all. How many nations and communities have been done over by history look at a history museum! Like I said I really feel more sorry for the old timers like the Celtic communities! We only have a global population of about 20 million so we have no choice but to put up with these injustices that other communities put against us, what's everyone else's excuse? We can only plead with a listening ear, maybe one day the Guru's Shabad will make sense to the rest of them and then hopefully the hate stops and the love will conquer all! God bless!
     
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    #10 Parma, Jan 16, 2014
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  12. Abneet

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    I want to see the letter what the Indian Gov. sent to them first because I want to see what they said about the Sikhs in the Golden Temple and what they were doing etc to the British gov... Probably never gonna find out though.
     
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  13. ActsOfGod

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  14. Ikk Khalsa

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    I wonder if they actually tried to carry the SAS plan in the beginning but lack of Indian commandos training and Shabeg Singh's preparation it didn't not work. General Brar does mention in his interview that they tried to send the commandos in first but most of them were killed.
     
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  15. spnadmin

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    This article, which is a recap from The Guardian, addresses some questions and uncertainties we have expressed. Not all questions are answered.

    British “commercial interests” in India were “very substantial” – said post June 22, 1984 briefing by 10 Downing Street

    By Parmjit Singh

    http://www.sikhsiyasat.net/2014/01/...t-june-22-1984-briefing-by-10-downing-street/



    London, United Kingdom (January 16, 2014): According to The Guardian, then British PM Margaret Thatcher gave her Indian counterpart Indira Gandhi Britain’s full support in the immediate aftermath of the June 1984 attack on Darbar Sahib. The Guardian has reported seen further private correspondence of British officials in this regard.

    “The then British prime minister sent a personal note saying that Britain supported India’s unity in the face of demands for a separate Sikh homeland and disclosed that police were investigating threats against the safety of Indian diplomats”, The Guardian has reported.

    “The letter will cause further debate about Britain’s role in the raid among the worldwide Sikh community and senior MPs across the political spectrum after it was disclosed on Monday [Jan. 13] that the Indian government had made an apparent request for advice from the SAS in the months leading up to the raid”.


    It will form part of an investigation launched by the cabinet secretary, Sir Jeremy Heywood, on the orders of David Cameron to determine the British government’s actions over the raid on Sikhism’s holiest site in Amritsar.

    “The Indian government says about 400 people were killed when Gandhi sent troops into the temple complex in June 1984 in the six-day Operation Blue Star. Sikh groups, which have called for an inquiry into the British role in “one of the darkest episodes in Sikh history”, put the death toll in the thousands, including many pilgrims” The Guardian has noted.

    In what appears to be the first letter to Gandhi after the raid, sent on 30 June 1984, Thatcher wrote: “These have been anxious weeks for you, involving difficult decisions. I have followed closely your efforts to restore calm there, and I very much hope that the ‘healing touch’ for which you have called will open the way to a peaceful and prosperous future in that troubled region.”

    The letter, which is in response to two sent by Gandhi on 9 and 14 June, appears to show that the Indian prime minister had expressed worries that Sikh “extremists” could use Britain as a base. Thatcher wrote: “I well appreciate your concern about the potential security threat posed by extremists outside India. We are determined not to allow our traditional freedoms to be abused by those who seek to use violence for political ends.”

    In an apparent reference to death threats against Gandhi which had been reported in the British media, the UK prime minister who died last year wrote: “We have made sure the police are aware of these statements and they are investigating them.”

    Thatcher also reassured Gandhi that British police were “devoting considerable resources” to safeguarding Indian government personnel in Britain.

    A few months after the letter was sent, Gandhi was gunned down by her own Sikh bodyguards in a claimed act of revenge. This triggered communal violence which led to the deaths of thousands of Sikhs across India.

    According to The Guardian: [o]ther documents in the file make clear Whitehall’s interest in lucrative arms sales to India at this time. A secret Foreign Office briefing dated 22 June 1984, which was sent to Downing Street, stressed that British “commercial interests” in India were “very substantial. It is a large and growing market for both commercial and defence sales. British exports in 1983 exceeded £800m and since 1975 India has bought British defence equipment worth over £1.25bn,” the document claims.

    “Cameron on Wednesday [Jan. 15] appeared to downplay the likelihood of an inquiry finding evidence that Britain was to blame for the raid. Labour’s former deputy chairman Tom Watson suggested the British might have played a part in the assault on the temple in exchange for the Indians agreeing to purchase a fleet of helicopters in a £65m deal” notes The Guardian, while adding further that: Tom Watson said to Cameron: “On your Amritsar inquiry, instead of ordering the civil servants to investigate, why don’t you just ask lords Geoffrey Howe and Leon Brittan what they agreed with Margaret Thatcher, and whether it had anything to do with the Westland Helicopter deal at the time?” Cameron dismissed any suggestions of a conspiracy.
     
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  16. namritanevaeh

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    Hum nahin change bura nahin koe

    I am not good, nobody is bad. Didn't Guru Nanak say that? ;-)
     
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  17. namritanevaeh

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    I've been trying to tell people that there are a lot of parallels actually between more modern day xenophobia against Sikhs and what Scots witnessed in 1745+ when thousands of men, women, and children were either a) killed, b) exiled from their homes, c) raped...etc (homes burnt). It was a horrible time in Scotland...and while people today might think of Christianity as being all under 1 umbrella, it for sure was not considered as such then, which is WHY it was such a huge thing...Scotland had fought to try and bring a Catholic king to the throne and Protestant England wanted nothing to do with it. Essentially, being Catholic, aka Scottish, was evil. Because of the war then, my ancestors were kicked out of Scotland.

    I'm not counting the number of bodies in this. Only saying there IS a religious parallel there to be made. What was considered a major difference in the 1700's is less considered so today...due in part to globalization really, and more and more education about other religious.
     
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  18. Parma

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    All I can really say is when we start to see others, more than ourselves, at that point then will we truly start to make a difference that may change the way the world thinks!
    http://youtu.be/UxPLINz5BAk sometimes only a song can explain! Maybe not the best choice but as Sikhs it will make sense. God bless, and may this peaceful message of god the Guru Granth Sahib ji bring peace to the world and more selfless service, it is for the others to realise themselves not us, no one is perfect we are all on the journey shame they are so behind! Peace to all mankind!
     
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    #17 Parma, Jan 19, 2014
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  19. spnadmin

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    I have been checking every day and there seem to be no developments related to the Parliament debate last Thursday. Nothing new to report about promises made regarding a probe, and no additional information from official sources.

    What can be found with a little digging are articles and editorials that add details to the general outlines of this story.

    Here is one editorial that has some interesting details related to the Thatcher/Gandhi connection.


    'Thatcher backed Indira after Operation Bluestar'
    Prasun Sonwalkar, Hindustan Times

    Former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher fully supported Indira Gandhi’s efforts to apply the ‘healing touch’ in the aftermath of Operation Bluestar in 1984 and assured her of steps to deal with pro-Khalistan elements operating in Britain at the time. Gandhi wrote to Thatcher on 9 and 14 June 1984 (Operation Bluestar ended on 10 June). The letters were about Sri Lanka and developments in trouble-torn Punjab. Her 14 June letter to Thatcher was specifically about Punjab.

    In her reply, Thatcher wrote on 30 June 1984: “These have been anxious weeks for you, involving difficult decisions. I have followed closely your efforts to restore calm there, and I very much hope that the ‘healing touch’ for which you have called will open the way to a peaceful and prosperous future for that troubled region”.

    Thatcher’s reply sent by telegram to New Delhi is among several documents de-classified and released by National Archives here. They include controversial documents of February 1984 that suggest that India sought, and Thatcher agreed to provide, advice from Britain’s special forces to flush out Sikh militants from the Golden Temple.

    Thatcher’s 30 June letter to Gandhi reflects the close relationship between the two leaders. Gandhi had raised concerns in her letter about pro-Khalistan elements operating from Britain and the effect of their activities on the tense situation in India.

    Thatcher wrote: “I well appreciate your concern about the potential security threat posed by extremists outside India. We are determined not to allow our traditional freedoms to be abused by those who seek to use violence for political ends”.

    “I know that certain remarks carried by the media in Britain have caused distress in India. We have made sure the police are aware of these statements, and they are investigating them. As you know, the media are independent in Britain, as they are in India. This means that the government does not intervene in media decisions, however much we may personally regret them”.

    Thatcher went on: “I know that you are also concerned about the safety of your government’s personnel and premises in this country. We firmly intend to fulfil our responsibility to protect them. The police are devoting considerable resources to this task. They will of course continue to need the fullest cooperation and assistance from your people”.

    Thatcher’s government had curtailed the activities of the pro-Khalistan leader, Jagjit Singh Chauhan, who gave a controversial interview to the BBC on 12 June 1984.

    - See more at: http://www.hindustantimes.com/world...le1-1173479.aspx?hts0021#sthash.IrEnUS95.dpuf
     
  20. spnadmin

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    Also new today. Here is another editorial with a very controversial point of view and some telling information included.

    SAS and Operation Bluestar

    Lt Gen Harwant Singh (retd), Hindustan Times Chandigarh, January 20, 2014


    The controversy relating to the occupation of the Golden Temple complex by the Sikh militant groups led by Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale and the subsequent handling of the situation by the government simply refuses to die down. Just as one thought that the memory of this unfortunate chapter of militancy in Punjab and the assault on the shrine that had hurt the Sikh sentiment grievously was fading away, a new revelation connected with Operation Bluestar has emerged: on the declassifying of some of the connected documents in the United Kingdom.


    To set the tone and tenor of this debate right, it needs to be asserted that Special Air Service (a secret force of the British government to undertake covert operations etc.) had no part, whatsoever, to play in Operation Bluestar. If this operation was planned shoddily, in somewhat unprofessional manner, the blame rests entirely with us. If this tactically ill-conceived plan was carried through to a successful conclusion, the credit rests entirely with the troops who took enormous casualties without a demur in the execution of that plan.

    The question that should exercise the mind of all Indians is the rationale behind the need or perhaps the motive of the Indian government in seeking advice from the British government on an internal problem. In all this, what was the role of Indian intelligence agencies, more so that of Research and Analysis Wing (RAW).

    Bahukutumbi Raman, one of the founders of RAW, in his book, 'The Kaoboys of R&AW", records that two officers of the British Military Intelligence 5 (MI-15) visited the Golden Temple to reconnoiter the complex and its fortification by the militants. It is alleged that it was the-then prime minister who had sought this help from the British government and may be for subsequently driving out the militants from the complex. What else could be the purpose of involving the British government in a patently internal problem of this country!

    Now that this sad and tragic chapter of Punjab's history has been reopened, the Indian government and its intelligence agencies must come clean on the issue. After all the Bhindranwale phenomena was a creation of the government in Delhi.

    How was this buildup within the Golden Temple complex allowed to reach such proportions that it became a threat to the very security of the nation, and a state within the state had emerged, from where orders to create mayhem and murder were emanating. First it needs to be explained how the buildup of such huge arsenal of weapons and ammunition took place when central and state police had laid siege to the Temple complex. Was it a deliberate move to allow the situation to deteriorate to such a menacing level that its final crushing would garner credit for the PM who would then appear as "Durga", the destroyer of evil.

    During that turbulent period, the customs authorities at the Delhi airport had intercepted a consignment of weapons, including a rocket launcher. Thereafter was a complete clampdown on further information relating to this shipment. Could it be a coincidence that the militants on that night of Operation Bluestar used a rocket launcher against an armoured personnel carrier?

    It is believed that the British officers who carried out the reconnaissance of the Golden Temple complex had advised against military action. However, Raman in his book records that there was some unease among the intelligence community over the proposed course of action and Kao (RAW chief) was of the opinion that it would be better to be patient and wait for some more weeks, and taking precipitate action would prove counter-productive; or if immediate action was essential, then it was better to use the state and central police.

    There are three questions that the government of India needs to answer. One, if the nation's premier intelligence agency was of the view that the state and central police could clear the temple complex of militants, then where was the need to call the military? Two, if the chief of RAW was of the view that the operation for clearing the complex could wait for a few weeks and that there was no need for a precipitate action, then who forced the army to launch the operation without delay and on the very night before the martyrdom day of Guru Arjan Dev when thousands of pilgrims were housed inside the complex, who came under the crossfire of the military and the militants eventually? Thirdly and finally, why was the British intelligence brought into an entirely internal problem of the country and what was the underlying purpose?

    The writer, a former deputy chief of the army staff, is a commentator on security issues. The views expressed are his personal.

    http://www.hindustantimes.com/punjab/chandigarh/sas-and-operation-bluestar/article1-1174778.aspx
     
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  21. spnadmin

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    My own question about the article by Lt. Singh. Is there any credible report/evidence to support his statement

    He, himself, states there was a clampdown on information regarding a consignment of weapons that included a rocket launcher. Is there a public report that a rocket launcher was actually used against an armoured personnel carrier? Thanks if you can fill me in on this issue.
     

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