Three Sikh men and a woman convicted of carrying out a revenge attack on Lt Gen (retired) K S Brar for his role as commander of Operation Blue Star in 1984 were today sentenced by a British court to between 10 and 14 years in prison.
Brar sustained severe injuries in the knife attack on the streets of central London in September 2012 by the gang described in court as Sikh extremists.
The pro-Khalistan supporters tried to slash the 78-year- old former army officer's throat for his role in leading the operation to flush out extremists from the Sikh holy shrine of Golden Temple in Amritsar.
Mandeep Singh Sandhu, 34, from Birmingham, and London- based Dilbagh Singh, 37, were sentenced to 14 years in jail for the offence of wounding with criminal intent at Southwark Crown Court.
Their female accomplice, 39-year-old Harjit Kaur, found guilty of enabling the attack by providing information about the whereabouts of Brar and his wife, was given a 11-year prison term.
Barjinder Singh Sangha, the youngest of the group at 33 years, had pleaded guilty to the charge of wounding with intent. He was given a lighter sentence of 10 years and six months.
All four were directed to serve at least half their sentences in custody before being considered for release on license.
The group clearly targeted Brar in "revenge for his actions during his military career and today's convictions are another reminder that the UK will not tolerate extremism of any kind", the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said.
During the sentencing hearing, the judge said: "The attack falls within the most serious category of wounding with intent and I have reached my decision based on the nature of injuries inflicted as well as the significant psychological harm caused to the Brars since the incident.
"Moreover, it involved a significant degree of pre-meditation and it was intended to inflict more serious injury as part of a religiously aggravated targeting of Mr Brar for his actions at the Golden Temple during his military career," he added.
Brar was holidaying in London with his wife Meena when he was assaulted. The court heard how the couple was followed for days in the lead up to the attack on September 30, 2012.
On the night of the attack, the couple was heading from a casino in Leicester Square to their hotel near Marble Arch when the three Sikh men and a fourth unidentified man, who has not been arrested, descended on them and slashed Brar's neck, causing a 12-inch gash across his neck and jaw and another three-inch cut to the jaw.
"Lt Gen Brar was targeted in a highly planned and pre-meditated attack. Harjit Kaur was instrumental in carrying out reconnaissance of the area and followed the Brars around London," the CPS said in a statement.
"The couple was set upon in what was a swift, effective and terrifying ambush; Sandhu and Singh held Lt Gen Brar down as Sangha slashed at his neck with a knife," it said.
The lawyers of the guilty men and woman argued that they were of previous "good character and hard-working members of the Sikh community in Britain".
The judge was told of Sangha's two young daughters and wife who would be affected by his sentencing. He was also pointed to Dilbagh Singh's personal involvement in the case, having lost his father and brother in the Golden Temple siege when he was just eight years old.
All four appeared calm and smiled as they were brought into the courtroom from custody.
Three bus loads of Sikhs from cities across the UK, including Birmingham and Wolverhampton, gathered at the court to protest the sentencing.
They waved banners reading "Stop War Criminals Coming to the UK" and shouted slogans like "We Want Justice" outside the court after the sentences were handed down.
"Brar refused to allow innocent civilians the opportunity to leave a battlefield," a Sikh man alleged as he handed out leaflets to passersby.
During the trial in July, Brar gave evidence via videolink from India and revealed that a pro-Khalistan website had 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 on his trip to London, which he said was a private holiday. His protection ranking was raised to the highest possible after the attack.
Brar and his wife sent a victim impact statement to the court on September 18, detailing the psychological impact of the attack had on their lives.
"The continued effect on a couple in their 70s set upon by a group of young athletic men has been considerable. Mr Brar resolutely fought back and no doubt prevented a more serious impact," the judge said.
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