Mandeep Singh Sandhu, one of the three Sikh extremists convicted on Wednesday of carrying out a life-threatening attack on Operation Bluestar commander Lt Gen Kuldip Singh Brar (retd) in the UK last year, had turned radical after coming under the wings of a pro-Khalistan module, it is learnt.
Before immigrating to the UK in 2004, Sandhu, 34, led a quiet life in Amritsar and was never involved in any anti-social activity, according to police sources. Two other Sikh men and a woman, Harjit Kaur, also convicted in the case, did not have a criminal history too.
Convict Dilbag Singh, 37, hails from Karnal (Haryana), while Barjinder Singh Sangha, 33, who had already pleaded guilty, was born and brought up at Hamra village in Ludhiana district.
Police source say Sangha had initially gone to Italy, from where he shifted to UK. It was in 2010 that he had come to India, apparently to meet his relatives, including a sister.
Lt Gen Brar is the lone surviving frontline commander of Operation Bluestar, which was carried out in 1984 to flush out pro-Khalistan militants from the Golden Temple.
On September 30, 2012, a day after he celebrated his 78th birthday in London, Lt Gen Brar escaped an assassination bid by knife-wielding Sikh radicals who wanted to avenge the army action.
When contacted on his cell phone, Lt Gen Brar politely declined to make any comment regarding the verdict. In an exclusive interview to Hindustan Times soon after the attack, he had said: “…unfortunately, there are pro-Khalistan groups very active abroad, particularly in London, Canada and Germany…and propagate the theory of an independent state of Khalistan. And they are trying to instill their ideology into the minds of the youths. Some of the youths who are unemployed and disgruntled fall into their trap.”
Police sources say Sandhu was “trapped” by the brother of a terrorist running a pro-Khalistan group in London and later formed a “group of self-motivated youths.”
“The group clearly targeted Lt Gen Brar in revenge for his actions during his military career. The convictions are another reminder that the UK will not tolerate extremism of any kind,” said Mari Reid of the Crown Prosecution Service’s counter-terrorism division, according to a PTI report.
Gen Brar sustained a neck wound in what prosecutors called “a highly premeditated assault” as he was returning to his hotel. He was left with a 12-inch cut running across his neck and jaw and another 3-inch cut to the jaw.
“Lt Gen Brar was targeted in a highly planned and pre-meditated attack. Harjit Kaur was instrumental in carrying out reconnaissance of the area and followed the Brars around London,” Reid said.