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Declassified documents spur debate on Indo-British ties

Prime Minister of Great Britain and Northern Ireland Margaret Thatcher calling on her Indian counterpart Indira Gandhi, in New Delhi on April 15, 1981.Photo: The Hindu Archives

Prime Minister of Great Britain and Northern Ireland Margaret Thatcher calling on her Indian counterpart Indira Gandhi, in New Delhi on April 15, 1981.Photo: The Hindu Archives   | Photo Credit: ASHOK

Declassification of confidential documents has thrown light on interesting nuggets in Indo-British relations 30 years ago besides triggering controversy over purported British help in operation Bluestar to flush out militants from the Golden Temple in Amritsar in 1984.

British Prime Minister David Cameron has asked Cabinet Secretary Jeremy Heywood to conduct an “urgent” investigation after documents declassified under the 30-year rule suggested a British special forces officer advised India on carrying out the attack.

Another confidential document that has become public is a letter from the office of the then British Foreign Secretary Sir Geoffrey Howe to the office of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher on the meagre contribution of Indian High Commissioner Dr. Seyyid Muhammad to Indo-British ties.

P.F. Ricketts, Private Secretary to Sir Geoffrey, wrote to Mrs. Thatcher’s Secretary A.J. Coles on January 19, 1984, that Dr. Seyyid Muhammad’s contribution had been “limited”.

“Although Dr. Muhammad’s contribution to the development of Indo-British relations has been limited (and somewhat overshadowed by the private efforts of Mr Swraj Paul), relations with India during his time in London have been excellent,” Mr. Ricketts wrote.

Asked about the letter, Lord Swraj Paul, who was close to Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, chuckled and said, “What can I say? I did my best to cement bilateral ties.”

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Printable version | Feb 26, 2020 6:41:17 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/declassified-documents-spur-debate-on-indobritish-ties/article5585978.ece

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