Operation Sundown: SAS plotted kidnap at Golden Temple

Operation Sundown: SAS plotted kidnap at Golden Temple

Phil Miller, Stop Deportations blog, 02 February 2014

The India Today magazine has shed more light on Britain’s controversial military advice to India about raiding the Golden Temple in 1984.

The SAS vetted Operation Sundown, a secret plan for a heli-borne commando raid on the Golden Temple to abduct Sikh leader Bhindranwale, according to unnamed Indian ex-special forces soldiers interviewed by the reputable magazine.

Operation Sundown was developed by India’s intelligence agency RAW, whose Special Group military wing spent two months rehearsing the operation on a mock-up of the temple complex. Indira Gandhi vetoed the plan in April 1984.

The magazine also refers to the 2007 book The Kaoboys of R&AW by B. Raman, a former head of RAW’s counter-terrorism division, which claimed two MI5 officers at the British High Commission had carried out surveillance on the Golden Temple complex in December 1983. India Today’s sources claim these MI5 officers then briefed a senior SAS officer sent by the UK to Delhi who deemed the special operation feasible.

If true, this report adds more detail to the letters that I found at the National Archives which said:

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”.

The India Today article also mentions that: “Though Sundown was aborted, some of the commandos who had trained for it spearheaded a near-suicidal frontal assault on the heavily fortified Akal Takht during Bluestar”

Labour Party MP Tom Watson has called for “an urgent statement” in the House of Commons on Operation Sundown.