Sikhs jailed for London attack on Indian general

Reuters News
Posted: Dec 10, 2013 9:55 AM

LONDON (Reuters) - Four Sikhs convicted of the revenge stabbing in London of an Indian general who had led a raid on Sikhism's holiest shrine in India were jailed in Britain on Tuesday, police said.

Retired Lieutenant General Kuldeep Singh Brar, 78, was attacked by a gang and slashed in the neck as he was walking with his wife near the busy Oxford Street shopping area during a holiday in Britain in September last year.

He was treated in hospital and discharged the next day.

Brar had spearheaded Operation Blue Star, a military raid against Sikh separatists in the Golden Temple at Amritsar in 1984 in which 1,000 people are estimated to have died.

Later that year, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was assassinated by her own Sikh bodyguards, triggering a further wave of retaliation in which nearly 3,000 Sikhs were killed.

Mandeep Singh Sandhu, 35, from Birmingham in the English Midlands, was sentenced to 14 years in prison, London's Metropolitan Police Service said in a statement.

Dilbag Singh, 37, of no fixed address, was also sentenced to 14 years while a woman, Harjit Kaur, 39, from Hayes, west of London, was sentenced to 11 years.

They had been found guilty at Southwark Crown Court in July of wounding Brar with intent to do him grievous bodily harm.

Another man, Barjinder Singh Sangha, 34, of Wolverhampton, also in the Midlands, had admitted the same charge when he appeared at Southwark in January this year. He was sentenced to 10-1/2 years on Tuesday.

Having become aware last year of the presence in Britain of Brar and his wife, the group travelled to London and carried out reconnaissance of the area where they were staying, the police statement said.

Harjit Kaur followed the Brars around London and gave the three men regular updates on their mobile phones about the couple's movements and locations.

The attack took place as the couple were walking back to their hotel after an evening out.

"As they passed the group, Sangha grabbed Mr Brar's wife, 68-year-old Meena, and held her by the throat against a wall, while the others attacked Mr Brar," police said.

"Sangha then joined the others in attacking Mr Brar, who was fighting back in self-defense. Sangha drew a knife and slashed at (his) neck. At this point the assailants fled on foot, leaving Mr Brar lying on the ground seriously injured."

"This was a pre-planned and organized attempt to assassinate General Brar for his military involvement in the siege of the Golden temple in India in 1984," said Commander Richard Walton, head of the Metropolitan Police's Counter Terrorism Command.

"It was ultimately unsuccessful and we are pleased that the sentencing reflects the seriousness of this attack."

(Reporting by Stephen Addison; Editing by Kevin Liffey)