Amritsar massacre: Government faces backlash by Britain’s 430,000 Sikh voters over armed forces' advice to India before assault

A UK military adviser sent to India by Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative government recommended a stealth attack on the site which left hundreds dead in 1984

The Government faces a Sikh voting backlash after it was confirmed that Britain’s armed forces gave tactical advice to Indian officials before the assault on the Golden Temple of Amritsar 30 years ago.

An investigation into the involvement of a UK military adviser – first revealed in documents accidentally released under the 30-year-rule by the National Archives – revealed he recommended the use of helicopters in a stealth attack to minimise deaths during the 1984 operation against militants holed up in Sikhs’ holiest site.

Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative government agreed to send the adviser to India four months before the assault in response to a request for help from the Indian government. The move was considered good for the “bilateral relationship” at a time of potential defence-related sales, according to the report released by Cabinet Secretary Jeremy Heywood.

Prime Minister Indira Gandhi ordered the attack – which left at least 575 dead, with some reports putting the toll as high as 3,000 – after a six-month stand-off with militants who occupied the temple as part of an independence campaign.

William Hague, the Foreign Secretary, told the Commons that the British advice was not followed and had limited impact on the bloody military operation. But the confirmation of British intervention before the attack sparked accusations of betrayal among Britain’s 430,000 Sikhs – who could play key roles in marginal seats at the next election.

“The community has a significant pull in a number of key marginal constituencies,” said Prof Gurhapal Singh of the School of Oriental and African Studies. “The historic importance of this event was lost on the government of the time. “Labour is likely to drive the Tories into the ground about this.”

In a video message to the Sikh community, Mr Cameron said: “I hope the manner in which we have investigated these dreadful events will provide some reassurance to the Sikh community, here in Britain and elsewhere.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Web Application Developer / Software Developer

£21000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This software development compa...

Loren Hughes: Financial Accountant

£45,000 - £55,000: Loren Hughes: Are you looking for a new opportunity that wi...

Loren Hughes: Senior Finance Analyst

£65,000 - £75,000: Loren Hughes: Are you a post qualified accountant? Do you h...

Loren Hughes: Commercial Finance Analyst

£55,000 - £60,000: Loren Hughes: Are you a newly qualified accountant from a B...

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower