File photo of attackers of retd Lt Gen KS Brar (L to R): Mandeep Singh Sandhu, Harjit Kaur, Dilbagh Singh, and Barjinder Singh Sangha. (HT photos)
The four people who attacked and slashed the throat of Gen KS Brar in central London in September last year for his role in the 1984 Operation Bluestar were on Tuesday sentenced to jail at the Southwark Crown Court.
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, (for 10 years and six months) of Wolverhampton.
The Metropolitan police said after the sentencing that after becoming aware of Brar's presence in the UK, the defendants travelled to London on 28 and 29 September last year and carried out reconnaissance of the area where he was staying.
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. Lieutenant General Brar sustained deep cuts to his face and neck in full view of his wife near their hotel on Old Quebec Street.
Reid added: "Lieutenant General 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 Singh held Lieutenant General Brar down as Sangha slashed at his neck with a knife. The group clearly targeted Lieutenant General 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 that 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".
Nearly 100 people supporting Brar's attackers demonstrated outside the Southwark Crown Court, where the sentence was pronounced, and called for Brar to be indicted as a "war criminal" for his role on Operation Bluestar. They said they did not condone the actions of the four attackers, but were protesting against Brar.
Gen Brar, who was on a visit to London, was attacked on Old Quebec Street on 30 September near the busy Marble Arch area in central London as he walked with his wife.
On 30 September, Harjit Kaur followed the Brars around London and provided her co-defendants with regular updates on their mobile phones about the couple’s movements and locations.
This enabled Sangha, Sandhu, Singh and another man to intercept and assault the Brars as they were walking along Old Quebec Street, W1, towards their hotel following an evening out.
As the couple passed the group, Sangha grabbed Brar’s wife, 68-year-old Meena 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 on foot towards Oxford Street, leaving Brar lying on the ground seriously injured.
At the time, Gen Brar said he was convinced that it was an assassination attempt by pro-Khalistan elements. Brar, who kicked and fought three of the four assailants, suffered a knife wound in the neck and received medical treatment at a London hospital.
Describing the incident at the time, the 78-year-old Brar said he fought with the assailants, with “abnormal strength”, and added: “Now when I think back not 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”.
One of the four assailants, he said, separated his wife 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.
During the investigation that was carried out by the Counter Terrorism Command of the Metropolitan police, a total of 15 people - 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 General Brar for his military involvement in the siege of the Golden temple in India in 1984. It was ultimately unsuccessful and we are pleased that the sentencing reflects the seriousness of this attack."
The assailants were convicted in July this year, and Gen Brar gave his testimony in the British court through videolink.