Indian general slashed in Amritsar 'revenge' attack: UK court

Indian general commanded the bloody 1984 Amritsar Golden Temple assault.


Afp July 17, 2013
Retired Indian lieutenant general Kuldip Singh Brar (R) is escorted out of the Chattrapati Shivaji International Airport after his arrival from London in Mumbai on October 3, 2012. PHOTO: AFP

LONDON: The Indian general who commanded the bloody 1984 Amritsar Golden Temple assault had his throat slashed in a deliberate revenge attack by a Sikh gang in London, a court heard Tuesday.

Retired lieutenant general Kuldip Singh Brar, 78, the commander of Operation Blue Star, was ambushed by a gang of four men on September 30, Southwark Crown Court was told.

Two men, Mandeep Singh Sandhu, 34, and Dilbag Singh, 37, and one woman, Harjit Kaur, 39, have pleaded not guilty to wounding with intent.

Their trial heard that another man, 33-year-old Barjinder Singh Sangha, has separately pleaded guilty to wounding with intent. A fourth man allegedly involved in the attack is still at large.

Brar was slashed across the neck as he walked with his wife Meena near London's main shopping thoroughfare Oxford Street during a holiday visit.

Hundreds were killed in the raid he commanded, which was aimed at flushing out militants who had occupied Sikhdom's holiest shrine, the Golden Temple in Amritsar in north-western India, demanding an independent Sikh homeland.

Prosecutor Annabel Darlow said Brar "oversaw a number of military operations which have made him a target for Sikh extremist groups".

The Sikh gang "deliberately set out to attack general Brar, a stranger they had never met, in revenge for his actions during his military career," Darlow told the court.

"This was no random attack. This was a highly premeditated assault," she added.

Darlow alleged that the female suspect Kaur "played a crucial role" in "shadowing" the Brars as they left their hotel.

She got on the same bus as them and was in regular telephone contact, "relaying information to four men that were bent on attacking Brar", the prosecutor said.

As the couple passed the group, Sangha attacked Meena Brar and the other three attacked her husband, the court heard.

"Sangha grabbed Mrs Brar by the throat and threw her against a wall. She started to scream very loudly and called for help," Darlow said.

"General Brar was fighting as hard as he could to defend himself."

Sangha allegedly then joined the others in attacking the general. Sangha "drew a knife as the other men held the victim," Darlow said.

The general was left with a 12-inch cut which ran across his jaw and neck and sliced through muscle. He also suffered a three-inch cut to the jaw.

One attacker dropped his mobile telephone as he fled, leaving vital clues for the police about the assault.

The jury was told that Brar had survived several assassination attempts in his homeland.

Speaking via videolink from India, Brar told the court he had endured "unlimited threats" since Operation Blue Star and websites have branded him as "number one enemy of the Sikhs".

His London visit was one that he and his wife took annually for the past 10 to 15 years.

"We were travelling as a private couple as we always did," he said.

"We did not have any security. We did not want anybody. We just wanted to meet our friends and go down the streets. We were on a private holiday," he said.

He told the court that following the attack, he now had the highest possible protection ranking in his homeland.

Four months after the Amritsar raid, India's then-prime minister Indira Gandhi was assassinated by two Sikh bodyguards in retaliation.

That triggered anti-Sikh riots in which thousands of people were killed, most of them in the streets of the Indian capital New Delhi.

The court case continues.

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