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The embers of operation Bluestar still smolder

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The general in charge of Operation Bluestar, the Indian Army’s attack on the Golden Temple of Amritsar in 1984, where sikh terrorists had then taken refuge, was assaulted in London last week. NDTV reports:

In Gen Brar’s own words this is what happened: “My wife and I went to Piccadilly Circus for dinner, we were returning to the hotel at about 10 pm in the night, there’s a passageway between Oxford Street and Branson street where my hotel is located and it was there that suddenly four bearded tough looking gentlemen , Sikhs wearing black jackets and black clothes pounced on me, one of them pushed my wife to the side, she fell down and started screaming for help. Three of them charged at me, one pulled a ‘kirpan’, a dagger or a knife, can’t remember exactly what it was now, at that time there was a scuffle, and he tried to assassinate me and he slashed my neck with the knife, I fought back, being an army man, I knew how to defend myself, I kicked, and boxed and warded off the attack, but in the meantime they had already slashed my neck but probably didn’t have the time to slice the whole neck off, following which some people from the vicinity came to help as my wife was screaming and then these guys ran away.

He also goes on to say how in a matter of minutes, the London Police, Metropolitan Police arrived and the ambulance arrived. ” They wheeled me on a stretcher on to the ambulance and straight to the hospital, the doctors were alerted. I arrived in the hospital and they examined me, all the tests, blood pressure, ECG, etc. Then senior surgeon came in and examined me and he said I would require surgery under general anaesthesia. So they took me to the operation theatre and the surgery lasted about an hour. They opened up the wound to check whether the nerves had been cut or the arteries had been pierced and luckily none of that had happened, so they patched me up. And after I came out of the general anaesthesia, they brought me down to general ward and more doctors came to examine me after the surgery,” General Brar explained.

There was a little bit of a controversy surrounding this, as ET had reported:

The government will review the security of Lt General (retd) Kuldeep Singh Brar, both in India and abroad, following an attack on him by Sikh terrorists in London. “The government was not aware of his presence in London, though Brar claims to have informed the local Army authorities in Mumbai and Pune, where he is based, about his private trip. The next time he is abroad, the government will ensure that the defence, foreign and the home ministries are in the loop, to provide him personal security from the concerned Indian embassy,” a government official said.

A probe has begun on the communication gap and how he was left unguarded. In India, Brar has a Z-level security cover. The same will be reviewed, a government source said. Officially, the home ministry is yet to blame Khalistani elements for the attack. It is awaiting a report from the Research and Analysis Wing, and inputs from the UK police.

The same NDTV report now reveals a gap in the government reaction:

The Mumbai-based Gen Brar, as per standard practice, said that he had informed local army authorities about exact details of his visit to London, including flight and hotel details.

“I don’t inform the government, I inform the local military authorities…the military authorities in Bombay and Pune, then inform Delhi Army headquarters, and I suppose they inform the ministry. So who is supposed to inform them, I don’t know. I have no direct access to London,” Gen Brar elaborated.

Enquiries at the Mumbai-based MGG Area HQ revealed that it had indeed passed on the exact details of the General’s travel plans to the Foreign Division under the Directorate of Military Intelligence (MI-FD, as it is called in Army HQ lingo). Officials under MI-FD, under normal circumstances would have informed both the MEA and the Defence Attache in London about the General’s visit.

The report goes on to ask some pertinent questions, among which are:

  • Is there a dedicated cell of Khalistani elements tracking every movement of the Brar couple in Mumbai?
  • How come Gen Brar’s travel plans, supposedly known to only a handful few within the Army, were known to his enemies?
  • Are Intelligence agencies, who are supposedly keeping tabs on the resurgence of pro-Khalistani elements across the country, keeping track of those trailing Gen Brar’s movements?

Interesting also that the UK, which spends enormous amount of money and effort tracking terror cells of one kind, seem to be blind to terrorists of another stripe. The report by the BBC seems to illustrate this ambivalence:

No arrests have been made and police are keeping an open mind regarding a possible motive for the attack. They say they want to speak to people who helped the general and his wife at the scene following the attack.

It was thought that the sikh terrorist movement had come to an end. There were no indications that cells survive or that anyone now still subscribes to the belief in a greater sikh state which to be carved out of Pakistan and India. However, in Punjab, the issue is still very alive, as TOI reports:

The attack on Lt Gen (retd) KS Brar renewed the debate on Punjab government’s decision to allow the construction of a memorial dedicated to militants killed during the Operation Bluestar in Amritsar’s Golden Temple in 1984.

Though the construction is going on in full swing, the Sikh community is still divided over it. The ruling Shiromani Akali Dal (B) has been giving tacit support to the construction, but the Congress in Punjab is opposed to it.

Punjab Pardesh Congress Committee president Amarinder Singh has accused chief minister Parkash Singh Badal of playing the militancy card and not letting old wounds heal. Damdami Taksal, a Sikh seminary once headed by Sikh militant leader Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, is building the memorial.

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Written by Arhopala Bazaloides

October 3, 2012 at 4:47 am

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