| Lt Gen. Kuldip Singh Brar at his home in Mumbai. (PTI)
London, Oct. 6: All eight people arrested yesterday in connection with the attempted murder of retired Lt Gen. Kuldip Singh Brar have been released on bail.
The seven men and one woman have been asked to return in November pending further inquiries. It seems unlikely any of them were among the four men who actually tried to kill the general who led Operation Bluestar in 1984. But three other men picked up on October 4 remain in custody, Scotland Yard said today.
Scotland Yard is certainly spreading its net wide but until and unless there is a charge, it is impossible to say whether police are any closer to prosecuting the would-be assailants of Brar who was stabbed in the neck.
Police are themselves urging caution. Nowhere has Scotland Yard said Sikhs are involved in the attack on Brar late on the night of September 30 in Marble Arch in central London. But the counter argument is: “Who else would want to kill him?”
The four have been “described as being of Asian appearance, and were wearing dark clothing and long black jackets. They all had long beards. One of the men is described as younger and slimmer than the other three.”
Even Brar has not been mentioned by name, only as an “Indian national”, aged 78, who was visiting London with his wife. In one statement, Scotland Yard said: “The attack may have caused concern among our Indian and Sikh communities. While we are aware that there has been a great deal of speculation about possible motivation for this attack, it would not be helpful to our investigation to comment further at this stage.”
Scotland Yard is using letters of the alphabet to denote the characters who have been arrested. At the rate officers from the “Counter Terrorism Command” are going, police may soon pass Z. This is the catalogue as it stands of arrests, mainly of men for conspiracy to murder, with the geographical spread:
A — aged 33, at residential address in Wolverhampton at 5pm on October 4. Remains in custody.
B — woman, aged 40, at same address as above. Released on bail.
C — aged 34, at 5.30pm on October 4 after a car was stopped on Heath Lane in West Bromwich. In custody.
D — aged 25, at 7pm in same circumstances as C. In custody.
E — aged 42, at 0030 on October 5 at a residential address in Hillingdon, west London, on suspicion of assisting an offender. Released on bail.
F — woman, aged 38, at same address as E. Released on bail.
G — aged 34, 1am on October 5 on Queensdale Road, west London. Released on bail.
H — aged 30. Same address at G. Released on bail.
I — aged 31. Same address as G and H. Released on bail.
J — aged 33. At 5am on October 5 at residential address in Holland Park, west London. Released on bail.
K — aged 31. Same address as J. Released on bail.
L — 20 years. Same address as J and K. On suspicion of assisting an offender. Released on bail.
M — aged 45. Same address as J, K and L on suspicion of immigration matters unconnected with investigation into the attempted murder. Released on bail.
N — aged 29 years. Same as M. Released on bail.
aged 28 years. Same as M and N. Released on bail.
Police said that M, N and were referred to the UK Border Agency which looks after immigration violations, while all the others were interviewed by Scotland Yard officers at police stations in central and west London.
Police are appealing for more witnesses. “In particular they want to speak to those people who assisted the wife and the victim at the scene following the attack.”
Police are seeking answers to the questions: Who provided the tip-off on the whereabouts of Brar?
How did the assailants know he was in London? Brar has said he told the army command of his UK trip but the High Commission in London knew nothing about it — so who was the source of the leak? Was there a mole in India? Are any or all the four men who attacked Brar settled in the UK or did any come from abroad? Did any enter the UK illegally? Who assisted them? Were there safe houses? Was the plot hatched in the UK or abroad? Why did the men carry just a knife/knives and not a gun?
Basically, who knew what. Was any of the planning done in India? Will India need to invoke the extradition agreement at any stage?
The Khalistan issue has more or less died down and neither India nor the UK wants to raise the political temperature.
However, in a statement on the Brar attack, the British Foreign Office minister Hugo Swire said: “It is of great concern to the United Kingdom. We don’t want these people here exporting their terrorist views because they represent a real threat to people in the UK apart from anything else.
“It is regarded as being as unacceptable and despicable as people in India do. These things are taken very seriously by this government. General Brar was appallingly, appallingly attacked.”