London: Lieutenant General Kuldeep Singh Brar, who led Operation Blue Star against Sikh militants holed up inside the Golden Temple in 1984, was stabbed and injured in London.
Speaking to NDTV, Lt General KS Brar describes the attack and life after Operation Blue Star in 1984.
NDTV: Lieutenant General please tell us what happened, sequence of events?
Lt Gen (retd) KS Brar: 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 4 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, 3 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. And in a matter of minutes, the London Police, Metropolitan Police arrived. 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. They kept me under observation for some time and finally allowed me this afternoon to return to the hotel.
NDTV: Lt. Brar, what was the experience like, I mean, did you get a chance to see these attackers at all and have you shared the information with the police?
Lt Gen (retd) KS Brar: Yes, I could get a vivid idea about them, they were tall, hefty, bearded, wearing black, mostly in jackets and I have shared that information with the police. It was also traumatic, it was also sudden that I didn't have time to recollect what else happened over there because all I know is I was on the ground and they kicking and pushing and they were trying to kill me. It was not, the motive was not robbery, they didn't go for my wife's handbag, and they didn't go for my wallet. It was an assassination attempt, they straight went for my neck with a sharp blade and it has been a very traumatic experience of course. I know that Sikh radicals and followers of Bhindaranwale sections of Babbar Khalsa and Khalistan Commando Force have always wanted my life, there have been lot of threats to my life through internet and through various messages which I have always been bringing to the notice of the police and military authorities in India. And I think they are quite aware about it and I think it's a known fact that after Operation Blue Star, the followers of Bhindaranwale in the Golden Temple and swore revenge and revenge they had. They had Indira Gandhi and General Vaidya and they said now General Brar, he can't get away and one of the websites, the Khalistan website even said that there have been 7 attempts on his life which have been unsuccessful and the eight one will be successful.
NDTV: Lt. Gen. what kind of security do you travel with when you are abroad?
Lt Gen (retd) KS Brar: No, I don't have any security when I am abroad. I don't know whether... what's better, whether to have security or to not have security. It's for the government to decide not for me to decide because sometimes its, security makes you very prominent and you can be easily recognised. And a hardcore assassin, no matter how much security you have, if he..if he wants to get you, he'll get you. After all he they could get Kennedy and various others like that, then who the hell am I that they won't get. On the other hand if you don't have security the danger is that you can be attacked but the plus point is that you are not prominent, you don't attract attention. So it is something very difficult for me to say but it's up to the government to see that what the best they can do is.
NDTV: Lt. Gen. What has it been like to live under the shadow of Operation Bluestar for all these years? That even after all these years an attack like this happens in the centre of London? What's it been like?
Lt Gen (retd) KS Brar: Well, obviously it is not good feeling, it's been.. it's very difficult for me and my family. All these years I have gone through a very very difficult period. And knowing that one day or the other one day those guys are going to achieve their aim, it's not a good feeling. But the fact is I am a soldier, I have been in uniform, took a pledge when I joined the Army that I am there to defend the integrity of the nation and given a task it must be carried out. So I have no regrets about having carried out the task which was assigned to me. I am a Sikh myself but in matters such as this you don't think of the caste, creed, religion or any such considerations. They are enemies of the nation, people who carry out such acts.
NDTV: Lt. Gen. of course it is not clear yet, the police is investigating who these people were and all of that but to the other groups who don't particularly like you very much, what would you like to say to them, Lt.Gen?
Lt Gen (retd) KS Brar: What can I say to them, I mean you must remember...they must remove the blindfolds that they have on and realize that the Golden Temple was no longer a of sanctity and it had been desecrated and they were going to declare Khalistan, there was a possibility in the next few days that Khalistan was going to be declared. And imagine if Pakistan was to recognise Khalistan then and then cross the border, like what happened in Bangladesh, East Pakistan. And desertion by the Punjab Police and 1947 like riots situation of Sikhs rushing out of Haryana towards Punjab and Hindus rushing out of Punjab towards Haryana, it would have been beyond the control and capabilities of the Army to take all these stocks on. In any case the Punjab Police became ineffective in the 80s. They had no authority left whatsoever. So, it's something which the Prime Minister Mrs. Gandhi then wanted to avoid at all costs. But I suppose there were compelling reasons for which this action had to be taken.
NDTV: And moving forward is there something you would like to say to the Government of India, would you like to say something to the people of India?
Lt Gen (retd) KS Brar: Yes, I would like to say to the Govt. of India and to the Akali Dal and to the Govt. of Punjab in particular that look put your political ambitions away. I mean, the Akali Dal is encouraging this. Can you imagine a monument being built inside the Golden Temple to honour the martyrs of Bindranwallah followers who died in that battle? I mean you are honouring criminals and building a memorial in their honour. What are we doing? We are taking the country back to the 1980s, we must think positive. We must look at the interest of a country and not at a selfish political motive. I think particularly Akali Govt. in Punjab just to win votes, they are ready to support the terrorist movements
NDTV: And just in conclusion, how is it that you are feeling now? It has been less than 24 hours since the attack happened, if you can sort of reflect upon the last 24 hours and how are you going to spend the next few days, sir?
Lt Gen (retd) KS Brar: Well, I don't know how I will spend the next few days but I have received messages of sympathy from all my friends and my relatives from all over the world. And I am looking forward to getting back to my home in India because this hasn't been a very pleasant experience. But then one cannot run away, one has to live life as it comes, we can't run away from such things.
Story first published:
October 02, 2012 12:26 IST