Hague: UK military advised India ahead of Golden Temple raid


Foreign Secretary William Hague has confirmed that a UK military adviser assisted the Indian government in planning operations against Sikh separatists, but emphasised the individual's role was "limited".

In January, David Cameron ordered an investigation into a claim by Labour MP Tom Watson that the Thatcher government "colluded" with India on the deadly raid on the Golden Temple in Amritsar in 1984.

According to official estimates, 575 people were killed when the Indian army stormed the Golden Temple - or Sri Harmandir Sahib - as part of its efforts to suppress the armed struggle by Sikh dissidents for an independent homeland in Punjab.

The foreign secretary came to the House on 4 February 2014 to update MPs on the investigation, which was carried out by Cabinet Secretary Sir Jeremy Heywood.

He told MPs that a single British military adviser travelled to India in 1984 several months before the raid in response to an appeal from assistance from Delhi, and that the help given was "advisory, limited and provided at an early stage".

Mr Hague acknowledged what happened at Amritsar as an "utter tragedy" and specified the provision of advice from the UK had a "limited impact on the tragic events that unfolded at the temple three months later".

The secretary of state also announced a review will be conducted into whether the 30-year rule under which official documents are released could be reduced to 20 years.

Shadow foreign secretary Douglas Alexander questioned the scope of Sir Jeremy's investigation and called for further details to be made public to "address very widespread concerns and fears" held by the Sikh community.

Labour MP Tom Watson demanded the government "apologise to those Sikhs who were misled in 1984", before Lib Dem Martin Horwood said it was "regrettable that a key file was destroyed".

Mr Hague declined to issue an apology, but stressed the government was keen to be "as transparent as possible" and confirmed that the review of the 30-year rule would look at how official documents came to be destroyed.

The government has published details of the investigation on its website.

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