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Probe reveals UK role in India Golden Temple assault "very limited"

British military advice had a "very limited" impact on India's 1984 Amritsar Golden Temple assault that left 500 dead, a government investigation found on Tuesday.

LONDON: British military advice had a "very limited" impact on India's 1984 Amritsar Golden Temple assault that left 500 dead, a government investigation found on Tuesday.

Foreign Secretary William Hague said the probe, ordered after newly-released documents revealed an elite British officer had advised New Delhi on plans for the raid, has concluded that the advice had only "limited impact on the tragic events that unfolded at the temple".

"The UK's assistance was purely advisory, limited and provided to the Indian government at an early stage," Hague said as he presented the report to parliament.

The report says that three months before the June 1984 assault, the officer from Britain's elite Special Air Service (SAS) advised the Indian military to launch a surprise helicopter attack to flush out militants who had occupied the temple in northwest India -- considered Sikhdom's holiest shrine.

But the eventual assault, codenamed Operation Blue Star, "was a ground assault without the element of surprise and without a helicopter-borne element", Hague told parliament.

British advice therefore had only a "limited impact on Operation Blue Star", Hague said.

The raid on the militants, who were demanding an independent Sikh homeland, left at least 500 people dead and triggered a cycle of bloody revenge attacks.

India's then-prime minister Indira Gandhi was assassinated four months later by two Sikh bodyguards, sparking anti-Sikh riots in which thousands of people were killed, mostly in New Delhi.

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