Three Sikh extremists were found guilty today of a knife attack in London that nearly killed the retired senior Indian army general who led a military operation against armed separatists holding out in the Golden Temple of Amritsar 29 years ago.
Lt Gen Kuldip Singh Brar, 78, was held down and his throat slashed in a carefully-planned attack by four men while he was walking with his wife in London's West End during an annual holiday to Britain. The retired officer has lived under tight security for nearly three decades after leading the controversial attack on the holiest Sikh shrine targeting militants seeking to separate from Indian rule and establish an independent state of Khalistan.
The operation, which left at least 500 people dead, led to the revenge assassinations of Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards, the head of the Indian army and anti-Sikh riots in that left thousands of people dead. It also resulted in death threats against Lt Gen Brar, who currently lives in a secure compound in Mumbai and receives protection whenever he leaves his home. He gave evidence in the trial via videolink from India.
Lt Gen Brar had no security in London and was attacked by four men at the end of a three-day operation planned from a Sikh temple in west London. The couple were tracked by a fifth female member of the group who followed them on a bus and gave regular updates to the attackers about where the couple could be found during the evening of September 30 last year.
His wife, Meena, was grabbed by the neck and shoved against a wall during the attack while Lt Gen Brar was held down by his attackers while another dealt a 12cm slash to his neck and face.
Two of the attackers, Mandeep Sandhu, 34, of Birmingham; and Dilbag Singh, 37, of London, were found guilty of grievous bodily harm at Southwark Crown Court. Harjit Kaur, 34, also of London, who tracked the couple, was found guilty. A fourth person, Barjinder Sangha, pleaded guilty before the trial. Another man has yet to be caught.
When Sangha was arrested, he told police: "I knew you were coming, it's all right. I am proud of what I have done. He killed children, lots of people in the Golden Temple in India."
Anti-terrorism officers said the attack appeared to be a one-off rather than a sign of a rise in violence by Sikh separatists that reached its height in the 1980s. Khalistan separatists were blamed for the 1985 bombing of an Air India flight in 1985 over the Atlantic that left 329 people, mainly Canadians, dead.
Commander Richard Walton, head of the Met's Counter Terrorism Command, said: "This was a vicious politically-motivated attack that very nearly killed Lieutenant-General Brar. It was pre-planned and organised, but thankfully unsuccessful. General Brar was brave throughout the attack and again during the court case. We are pleased that justice has been done."
The four are due to be sentenced on September 19.