The attack on retired General KS Brar, 78, is the work of fragmented groups that are remnants of the Khalistani movement in Punjab.
"These fringe elements have always been there. At this stage, the attack seems the work of fragmented groups and that is a very dangerous development," a senior source of the Indian security establishment said on the condition of anonymity. "Many small groups of four, 11 or 20 people are the remains of the Punjab Khalistani movement and that is a very dangerous development from the security point of view."
"What has happened in London is not surprising because we had been getting reports of how these small groups are patronised by wealthy sponsors of the Khalistan idea," the source added.
One of the prominent strands exists in form of the Pakistan-based Babbar Khalsa, which remains particularly active under Pakistan's shadowy secret agency Inter Services Intelligence's (ISI) influence.
"In Punjab, the ISI is also resorting to more subtle forms to subvert the Punjab youth in the form of drugs as the problem is far serious is the state that is known," he added.
In 1984, Brar, then a major-general, had led the Operation Bluestar, to flush out Khalistani militants from the Golden Temple in Amritsar. After his retirement, he lives in a secure cantonment area in Mumbai under 'Z' security.
On Sunday night, four unidentified men with 'long beards' knifed him in Central London. While the retired official has been discharged from the hospital, the attack has taken the Indian security establishment by surprise as it is indicative of a high degree of planning and surveillance on Brar's movement by the perpetrators of the attack.
"This was a pure assassination attempt on me. Even on Internet there are so many threats being sent to me to say that there have been many attempts on your life but they haven't succeeded, but the next one will succeed. They've been after me," Brar told a television channel on Monday night. While Brar visits London on a regular basis, reports said precise details of how he moves around in London were uploaded on a web site by an extremist organization last year.
The Khalistan movement, which peaked in the late 70s and early 80s, is a secessionist movement with the creation of Khalistan--a separate country for Sikhs--as the chief aim.