Attack on Gen KS Brar: Some disturbing questions

On Tuesday night as Lt Gen KS Brar and his wife Meena were speaking calmly, in a matter of fact manner on NDTV, describing the circumstances under which they were attacked in London by what increasingly looks like pro-Khalistani elements, one couldn’t but admire the brave couple for having warded off the assailants. 

In Gen Brar’s own words this is what  happened: “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,” Gen Brar

Beyond the immediate shock and admiration however, there are worrying questions that demand answers on the gaps in the narrative.

Let’s look at the sequence of events in the immediate aftermath of the attack.

When asked, the Indian High Commission in London said it had no information about the General’s  visit or his programme in London. External Affairs Minister SM Krishna, speaking from New York told journalists that the General had not kept the External Affairs Ministry informed about his visit!

Since the General was inaccessible in the first 24 hours after the attack, it was assumed that the minister’s assertion was right.

But by Tuesday morning, as Gen Brar spoke to NDTV’s London correspondent and other media outlets it became clear that he had–like any disciplined soldier–done what is normally expected of him given the fact that for over 25 years now Gen Brar and his wife have been living under Z+ category security. 

The Mumbai-based Gen Brar, as per standard practice, said that he had informed local army authorities about exact details of his visit to London, including flight and hotel details.
“I don’t inform the government, I inform the local military authorities…the military authorities in Bombay and Poona then inform Delhi  army headquarters, and I suppose they inform the ministry. So who is supposed to inform them, I don’t know. I have no direct access to London,” Gen Brar elaborated.
Enquiries at the Mumbai-based MGG Area HQ revealed that it had indeed passed on the exact details of the General’s travel plans to the Foreign Division under the Directorate of Military Intelligence (MI-FD, as it is called in Army HQ lingo). Officials under MI-FD, under normal circumstances would have informed both the MEA and the Defence Attache in London about the General’s visit.
So here are the questions that need answers:
  • How come the MEA’s first reaction was to say it had no information about Gen Brar’s presence in London?
  • Is it because the Army HQ did not pass on the information to London?
  • Or did the the High Commission sit on the information, assuming that after so many years of Operation Bluestar, the threat to the General was non-existent?
An internal inquiry would perhaps bring out the facts but beyond the procedural lapses, there are other disturbing indications that should worry both the intelligence agencies and Army authorities.  They are:
  • Is there a dedicated cell of Khalistani elements tracking every movement of the Brar couple in Mumbai?
  • How come Gen Brar’s travel plans, supposedly known to only a handful few within the Army, were known to his enemies?
  • The attackers in London knew exactly who to attack. Which means they had Gen Brar’s latest photographs. Who supplied his latest pictures to them?
  • Are Intelligence agencies, who are supposedly keeping tabs on the resurgence of pro-Khalistani elements across the country, keeping track of those trailing Gen Brar’s movements?
When the Brar couple returns to Mumbai in some hours from now, they will perhaps remain forever cocooned in their high-security home located in the Army area but for the Army and intelligence agencies the real work should begin now to get to the root of the leak that led to a near-fatal attack on one of our most accomplished soldiers.