London: One of the three Sikh men charged with attacking Lt Gen (retd) KS Brar in London, pleaded guilty of causing grievous bodily harm to the hero of the 1984 Operation Blue Star, as the accused were on Friday remanded in custody to stand trial from April 2. Barjinder Singh Sangha, 33, pleaded guilty to the charge of "unlawful wounding with intent to do grievous bodily harm" at the hearing in Southwark Crown Court. Mandeep Singh Sandhu, 34, and Dilbagh Singh, 36, pleaded not guilty to the same charge.
Seventy-eight-year-old Brar was attacked on September 30, 2012, in central London, while he was on a private visit and was heading back to his hotel with wife Meena, who escaped unharmed and was instrumental in alerting passers-by with her screams to call the police. Sangha also pleaded not guilty to a second charge of assault on Meena Brar.
"You are remanded in custody until April 2, when all three or two of you will appear for a trial. Mr Sangha, you will be sentenced for what you have done at the conclusion of the trial and not before," Judge Alistair McCreath told the three accused, who appeared in the dock wearing black turbans. All three Sikhs sported long beards and spoke only to confirm their identities and register their pleas.
While Sandhu admits to being present at the scene but not having participated in the attack, Dilbagh Singh has refused to confirm or deny even his presence on the day. The judge, describing the incident as a "serious attack", stressed that this lack of a definitive answer will be construed as a decision not to cooperate with the court.
Brar had sustained serious, but not life-threatening, injuries when suspected Khalistan sympathisers stabbed him in the neck and cheek. The retired general, who spearheaded the military raid against Sikh separatists at Golden Temple back in 1984, was not present at Friday's hearing. The court was told that he will give evidence in the trial via live video link from India.
The prosecution claimed there were a large number of eyewitnesses in the case and a timetable of witnesses will be submitted to the court by March 28. The court was also informed about additional evidence, including small parts of CCTV footage, telephonic and medical statements.
Terming it as a "high profile" case, Judge McCreath dismissed the prosecution's request to impose certain reporting restrictions on the case. Brar, who was attacked on Old Quebec Street in Marble Arch area of central London, commanded the army raid on Golden Temple to flush out armed Sikh militants. The attack on Brar in London has been widely reported as an assassination attempt by UK-based extremists sympathetic to the Khalistani cause.
(With additional information from PTI)