Sikh separatists tried to slash throat of retired Indian general in London revenge attack, court hears


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The Independent Online

Four Sikh separatists tried to slash the throat of a retired Indian general in a revenge attack carried out on the streets of London, a court heard today.

Two of the men and a female co-defendant appeared in court accused of attacking Lt Gen Kuldip Singh Brar last year. They, along with one man who has already admitted his part in the attack and another who has never been arrested, believed retired Lt Gen Brar to be responsible for atrocities committed at the Golden Temple of Amritsar during the Indian army's crackdown on Sikh separatists in 1984, the prosecution alleged.

The prosecutor Annabel Darlow said that one of the defendants Harjit Kaur, 39, tracked the retired soldier as he holidayed in the West End with his wife Meena. She told the jury her case would prove that Ms Kaur passed on the Brars' whereabouts to the attackers on the day of the alleged assault in September last year.

The other two men Mandeep Sandhu, 34, Dilbag Singh, 37, were accused of carrying out the attack itself. All three standing trial have been charged with wounding the 78-year-old Lt Gen Brar with intent. Barjinder Sangha, 33, has admitted the same charge, the court heard. The last alleged accomplice is not involved in the case at Southwark Crown Court.

"Kuldip Brar was slashed right across the neck with a knife. He sustained very deep cuts to his face and neck," said prosecutor Annabel Darlow. She added: "Each took part in an enterprise to cause Kuldip Brar serious harm."

And Ms Darlow said: "The four [men] acted in a group, deterring anyone else from becoming involved and going to General Brar's aid and sheltering the knifeman from view. Harjit Kaur too played a crucial role silently, unobtrusively following the Brars."

Harjit Kaur wore a pink shirt as she listened to the proceedings from the dock. Her co-defendant Mandeep Sandhu wore a white shirt with dark pinstripes and Dilbag Singh a grey t-shirt. The men wore Turbans and long, dark beards. None spoke and interpreters assisted all three throughout.

Lt Gen Brar, himself a Sikh, said that he was given one of India's highest levels of protection as a result of "unlimited" threats to his life. Giving evidence via videolink from India this afternoon, he said that one website declared him the "number one enemy of the Sikhs". Another threat he said he received read: "there have been seven attempts on his life which have not succeeded, but the eighth one will."

He was not protected, however, on his trip to London, which he said was a private holiday. He added that he and his wife, who have been regular visitors to London for more than a decade, did not want a security detail because they preferred to enjoy a normal holiday. "We wanted to meet our friends and walk in Hyde Park," he said. Their protection has now been stepped up as a result of the attack, the General added.

As the prosecution opened its case today, the jury saw CCTV evidence Ms Darlow said showed the four men running away from the scene of the crime. The jury also saw footage the prosecution said showed the General falling to the floor immediately after the attack.

The jury heard that the prosecution will attempt to show that the defendants were in constant contact via mobile phone, despite rarely contacting each other before that weekend. Ms Darlow alleged that most of the group met in London at the city’s Central Gurdwara, before reconnoitring the hotel their alleged target was staying in and launching their attack.

They were tracked down, Ms Darlow said, after one of the group's discarded mobile phone was found at the scene and handed in.

Mandeep Sandhu, from Birmingham, Dilbag Singh, from London, and Harjit Kaur, from London, all deny the charges. The trial continues.