While the British police, in accordance with their standard practice, refused to comment on the ethnicity of the four men who stabbed Lt. General (retired) K. S. Brar in central London on Sunday, his wife told The Hindu that she was “101 per cent certain” that they were Sikhs.

Mrs. Brar, who saw them from close quarters as they pushed her aside to get nearer to Gen. Brar, said: “I’m absolutely certain that they were Sikhs — 101 per cent.”

Police said “all had long beards” and wore “dark clothing and long black jackets.”

“One of the men is described as younger and slimmer than the other three. They all fled in the direction of Oxford Street,” a statement from Scotland Yard said, appealing for information.

Detectives investigating the case were particularly keen to speak to members of the public who responded to the couple’s call for help.

No arrests had been made until Tuesday evening.

Gen. Brar, who suffered injuries in the face and the neck was reported to be doing well though still shaken by the incident, which he described as a “pure assassination attempt.”

Police said they were treating it as an “attempted murder” but keeping an “open mind” over the possible motive behind the attack.

The incident took place near Oxford Street when the couple were returning to their hotel after dinner in Piccadilly Circus, a few blocks away. They had just got off a bus and were walking through a passageway when the assailants struck.

“Suddenly four bearded, tough-looking gentlemen — Sikhs wearing black jackets and black clothes pounced on me. One of them held my wife and pushed her against the wall. She fell down and started screaming for help. Three of them charged at me and pulled out a kirpan, a dagger or a knife I can’t remember. There was a scuffle and they tried to assassinate me. They slashed my neck. I fought back … I kicked, I boxed and I wrestled and warded off this attack,” Gen. Brar told NDTV.

The men fled when they saw members of the public coming. The whole thing lasted “maybe one minute,” he said.

It was “obvious,” he said in another interview, that the assailants were Khalistan sympathisers, who wanted to kill him for his role in “Operation Blue Star” in 1984 to flush out militants from the Golden Temple complex in Amritsar.

“On 6th of June, which is the anniversary of Blue Star every year, particularly in London, radical Sikhs come out in procession with banners and make pledges to kill me. So it was a pure assassination attempt,” said the General, who is on the hit list of several militant groups.

The Brars were due to return to India on Tuesday night but, acting on the advice of the police, the family declined to disclose its plans.

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