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HindustanTimes Wed,23 Jul 2014

Lt Gen KS Brar's attackers jailed in Britain

Prasun Sonwalkar, Hindustan Times  London, December 10, 2013
First Published: 21:33 IST(10/12/2013) | Last Updated: 20:43 IST(11/12/2013)

The four persons who attacked Lt Gen Kuldip Singh Brar (retd) in central London in September last year for his role in Operation Bluestar were on Tuesday sentenced to jail at the Southwark Crown Court.

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The four sentenced are Mandeep Singh Sandhu, 34, of Birmingham (for 14 years); Dilbag Singh, 37 (for 14 years), and Harjit Kaur, 39 (for 11 years), both from London; and Barjinder Singh Sangha, 33, of Wolverhampton (for 10 years and six months).

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Gen Brar (78), who was on a visit to London, was attacked on Old Quebec Street on September 30 near the busy Marble Arch area in central London as he walked with his wife. The retired army officer had then said that he was convinced that it was an assassination attempt by pro-Khalistan elements in revenge for his role in leading the 1984 army operation to flush out Sikh extremists from the Golden Temple in Amritsar.

Gen Brar, who kicked and fought three of the four assailants, had suffered a knife wound in the neck and received medical treatment at a London hospital. The assailants were convicted in July this year, and Gen Brar gave his testimony in the British court through videolink.

Nearly 100 people supporting the attackers demonstrated outside the Southwark Crown Court on Tuesday and called for Gen Brar to be indicted as a "war criminal" for his involvement in Operation Bluestar. They said they did not condone the actions of the four assailants, but were protesting against Gen Brar.

'Planned, pre-meditated'

Mari Reid of the Crown Prosecution Service's Counter Terrorism Division, said: "This was a violent and life-threatening attack carried out by Sikh extremists on the streets of London's West End."

Reid added: "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. The couple was set upon in what was a swift, effective and terrifying ambush; Sandhu and Dilbag held Gen Brar down as Sangha slashed at his neck with a knife. The group clearly targeted Lt Gen Brar in revenge for his actions during his military career and today's convictions are another reminder that the UK will not tolerate extremism of any kind.'

While sentencing the four, the judge said Gen Brar "resolutely fought back" and prevented an even more serious harm, and added that the "attack falls within the most serious category of wounding with intent". On Harjit Kaur's role, the judge said she enabled the "ambush" to take place "swiftly and effectively".

'Abnormal strength'

Describing the incident, Gen Brar said he had fought the assailants with "abnormal strength", and added: "Now when I think back, I can't imagine how I fought with those three big guys. But I suppose being a soldier and having been in the army for so many years, one learns to defend oneself."

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One of the four assailants, he said, separated his wife Meena (68) from him, while the other three "went for me". His wife fell down when one of the assailants pushed her against the wall, he said. Everything happened within a couple of minutes, "maybe one minute", he said.

According to the Metropolitan police, after becoming aware of Lt Gen Brar's presence in the UK, the convicts travelled to London on September 28 and 29 last year and carried out reconnaissance of the area where he was staying.

On September 30, Harjit Kaur followed the Brars around London and provided her accomplices with regular updates on their mobile phones about the couple's movements and locations.

This enabled Sangha, Sandhu, Dilbag and another man to intercept and assault the Brars as they were walking along Old Quebec Street towards their hotel following an evening out.

As the couple passed the group, Sangha grabbed Brar's wife and held her by the throat against a wall, while the others attacked Brar. Sangha then joined the others in attacking Brar, who was fighting back in self-defence. Sangha drew a knife and slashed at Brar's neck.

At this point, the assailants fled towards Oxford Street, leaving Brar lying on the ground seriously injured.

15 arrested

During the investigation, carried out by the Counter Terrorism Command of the Metropolitan police, 13 men and two women were arrested at locations in London and the West Midlands.

Commander Richard Walton, head of the Counter Terrorism Command, said: "This was a pre-planned and organised attempt to assassinate Lt Gen Brar for his military involvement in the siege of the Golden Temple in 1984. It was ultimately unsuccessful and we are pleased that the sentencing reflects the seriousness of this attack."

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