Tuesday, October 2, 2012





Lt.Gen. (retd) K.S.Brar, who played a prominent  and courageous role in the military action code-named OP Blue Star in the Golden Temple in Amritsar in June 1984, was the target of a pre-planned and determined attack by unidentified elements in London on the night of September 30,2012.He escaped death.

2. In an interview to Sonia Singh of NDTV on the night of October 2,2012, his wife said that before they left India for London, the Army unit responsible for their physical security in India was informed of their travel plans and their planned stay at London.

3.Despite this, the British security agencies do not appear to have been informed of their visit to London either by the Indian High Commission in London or by the Indian intelligence agencies in order to ensure their protection till they returned to India.

4.Their physical security in India is taken care of by the Army. Their security during their foreign travels is the responsibility of our intelligence agencies and diplomatic missions.

5.For reasons that are not clear, neither our intelligence agencies nor our mission in London appear to have taken any action to ensure his protection. He escaped largely due to his bravery, alertness and military reflexes.

6. Many senior officers of the security forces---military and civilian--- have over the years played leadership roles in counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency operations. Some of them like those who played a role in Ops Blue Star in 1984 and Black Thunder in 1988 against Khalistani terrorists are vulnerable to retaliatory attacks by the terrorists.

7. Their security is taken care of by their units while they are still in service. After they retire, they are dependent on their units and the concerned civilian departments for their continued protection.

8. In retirement, military officers are more vulnerable than civilian officers. Retired civilian officers have a web of contacts in the civilian departments concerned and in the Ministry of External Affairs. They use these contacts to ensure security for them when they go abroad.

9. Military officers spend their career mostly in barracks or cantonments. They do not have that kind of contacts in the civilian security bureaucracy. They intimate their travel plans to the Army unit responsible for their security in India and presume that necessary follow-up action will be taken. That is what Gen.Brar seems to have done.

10. Shockingly, there does not appear to have been any follow-up action on his intimation. He and his wife found themselves without protection in London.

11. Nothing can be more embarrassing or distasteful for a military officer than to go around asking for physical security in retirement. They expect and presume that the Government in recognition of their brave role would do whatever needs to be done on its own to ensure their protection.

12.This was apparently not done in the case of Gen.Brar, one of the most vulnerable officers. The Government should  immediately hold a detailed enquiry into this and see that such instances of ineptitude are not repeated. ( 3-10-12)

(The  writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: seventyone2@gmail.com  Twitter @SORBONNE75)



A BBC web site report on the attack on Gen.(retd) K.S.Brar, a retired officer of the Indian Army, at London on the night of September 30,2012, states as follows:

“He told Indian TV channels that the attack "was a pure assassination attempt on me".

"Four bearded, tough-looking men 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 out a dagger or a knife and tried to assassinate me," Lt Gen Brar said.

"He slashed my neck with the knife, but being an army man, I fought back. I kicked and boxed and warded off the attack, but in the meantime they had already slashed my neck."

“He said it was "obvious" that the attackers were sympathisers of Khalistan, who, he added, had wanted to kill him since Operation Bluestar.


"Even on internet, there are so many threats being sent to me to say that there have been many attempts on your life but they haven't succeeded, but the next one will succeed. They've been after me," he said.

“The General was attacked on Old Quebec Street in the Oxford Circus area of London on Sunday night by unknown assailants, with no suggestion so far that his attackers were Sikhs.

“The police said the four men "are described as wearing dark clothing and long black jackets. They all had long beards".

“No arrests have been made yet.”

2.As a Major-General, Gen.Brar was one of the senior Army officers who supervised a military operation code-named Op Blue Star inside the holy Golden Temple at Amritsar in June 1984 to flush out a group of Khalistani terrorists, who had taken control of the temple and were  indulging in acts of terrorism from inside the temple.

3.Left with no other alternative, Mrs.Indira Gandhi, the then Prime Minister, reluctantly ordered the military raid. The temple was freed from the control of the terrorists, but there was a large number of casualties and the Akal Takht, the holiest part of the temple, suffered considerable damage.

4.The military action had some tragic consequences which kept reverberating for months and years after the operation. These included the assassination of Indira Gandhi inside her house by two of her security guards from the Delhi Police, the assassination of Gen. A.S.Vaidya, who was the Chief of the Army Staff at the time of the operation, at Pune where he had settled down after retirement, some desertions of Sikh soldiers from the Army in the days after the military action and an aggravation of the Khalistan terrorist movement that continued till 1995 when it started subsiding.

5.The Golden Temple is the holiest of the holy places for the Sikh community all over the world. The military action inside the temple, however justified, and the damage to the Akal Takht due to the exchange of heavy gun fire inside the temple, deeply hurt the psyche of the Sikh community all over the world.

6.It goes to the credit of the Sikh community that despite their anger and feelings of inner  hurt, insult and humiliation over the military action inside their holy place, the massacre of a number of Sikhs in Delhi after the assassination of Mrs.Gandhi and the perceived reluctance of different Governments and the Congress leadership to identify and act against those suspected of involvement in the anti-Sikh violence, they did not allow the terrorists to exploit the situation to  drive a permanent wedge between the Sikh community and communities of other religions. The petering out of the Khalistan movement from 1995 onwards would not have been possible had not the moderate members of the community kept away from the terrorists.

7. The terrorist movement has petered out, but some founders of the movement are still alive and have not reconciled themselves to the end of the movement. Some of them continue to be based in Pakistan and are hoping to revive the movement one day. Fortunately, they have not been able to get any support from the Sikh community as a whole.

8. While the roots of the Khalistani terrorism have shrivelled up, the feelings of anger and inner hurt caused by the military action seem to still linger in some individuals, if not sections, of the community. That is a possible interpretation of the attack on Gen.Brar and his account of it as reported in the BBC web site.

9. A short while ago, a British journalist based in New Delhi rang me up to ask whether the attack on the General indicated that the Khalistan movement is back.  I will not rush to that conclusion for now. All I will say for the present is that the anger and inner hurt caused by the military action still linger.

10. The British Police have not yet arrested the suspects. Only if and when they arrest them we will know the motive. The motive is of primary interest in analysing the attack and concluding whether it was Op Blue Star related. Equally important will be the age of the suspects, if they turn out to be Sikhs. Do they belong to the old generation of Sikhs who had lived through the traumatic days of 1984 or are they from the younger generation?

11. If they are from the younger generation, that could be a disturbing indication that at least some members of the younger generation have inherited the feelings of anger and inner hurt from their elders.

112. We should see what we can do to mitigate their anger and hurt. Effective action against those responsible for the anti-Sikh massacres of 1984 in Delhi might help in this regard. ( 2-10-12)

(The  writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: seventyone2@gmail.com  Twitter @SORBONNE75)