Indian media: UK 'link' in Golden Temple raid 'disturbing'

The Golden Temple is the holiest shrine for Sikhs Image copyright AFP
Image caption The Golden Temple is the holiest shrine for Sikhs

Media in India are highlighting political reactions to reports that the UK colluded in the deadly raid on the Golden Temple complex in Amritsar in 1984.

British PM David Cameron ordered a probe after MP Tom Watson told the BBC he had seen declassified documents on the alleged involvement.

The storming of the Golden Temple, codenamed Operation Blue Star, in the northern state of Punjab was aimed at flushing out Sikh separatists.

The controversial raid outraged Sikhs around the world, who accused troops of desecrating the faith's holiest shrine.

India's main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has demanded answers from the Congress party government. The Congress was in power in 1984 with Indira Gandhi as prime minister.

"If the British government was being consulted in February 1984, it only lends credence to the fact that the government of India neither believed in nipping the problem at the initial stage nor in exploring alternative methods of evacuating the extremists from the Golden Temple," BJP leader Arun Jaitley said in an article on his Facebook page.

Punjab's ruling party Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) has also sought an explanation from the government.

"It is very disturbing for the Sikh community. I am astounded by the disclosure that the government invited foreign agencies to meddle in our internal matters," the NDTV website quotes SAD MP Naresh Gujral as saying.

The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), the body which manages and runs the Golden Temple, has also expressed outrage over the alleged revelations.

The SGPC president, Avtar Singh Makkar, said the UK's alleged involvement was condemnable and asked the British and Indian governments to offer an unconditional apology to Sikhs, the Hindustan Times reports.

The Indian government on Tuesday said it had sought the UK's help in verifying these reports.

"We have seen these reports in newspapers. We have sought information from the UK government in this regard and without factual information I cannot comment further," a report on the Zee News website quotes foreign ministry spokesman Syed Akbaruddin as saying.

Rahul Gandhi for PM?

In national news, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi has hinted that he is willing to become prime minister if his party wins the general elections due later this year, according to an interview in Hindi newspaper Dainik Bhaskar.

"Power is poison… but that does not mean that I am not keen to take responsibility. The word 'reluctance' is not a part of my life," the interview quotes Mr Gandhi as saying.

The fourth generation of a family that has ruled India for much of its independent history, he is often seen as reluctant to seek the country's highest post.

Meanwhile, four policemen were suspended after they were filmed "ruthlessly beating women protesters" in Firozabad city in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, the Zee News website reports.

The policemen were seen slapping, kicking and hitting the women with sticks when they were protesting against the deaths of two people in an accident, the report said.

The National Commission for Women has said it will demand an explanation from the police over the "unfortunate and sad" incident.

Meanwhile, several leading writers and publishers have joined hands to defend free speech by launching the Delhi chapter of global literary association PEN International, the Hindustan Times reports.

And finally, villages in Kullu district in the northern state of Himachal Pradesh are observing a 42-day silence to "avoid disturbing the gods while they are meditating", the Deccan Herald reports.

"This is an auspicious period when our deities return to heaven for mediation. Disturbing them can bring bad luck for us," the paper quotes a local priest as saying.

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