London — Police said today at least twelve men, some of them Sikhs, were arrested under antiterrorism laws as the result of investigations prior to a visit Monday by Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.
Police confirmed the men were arrested in swoops Friday but would not comment on newspaper reports the detentions foiled an assassination plot against Gandhi, who arrives in London Monday for a two-day visit.
Scotland Yard antiterrorist police arrested two Sikhs in London while police in Leicester, 100 miles north, were holding at least four people. At least three other arrests were reported in central England.
Suspects can be held under Britain’s Prevention of Terrorism Act for up to a week without charges.
Police in Leicester said in a statement the arrests concluded investigations “which enter around the impending visit of the Indian prime minister.”
The Daily Mail reported the arrests followed weeks of undercover operations by Special Branch officers monitoring the movements of Sikhs and Kashmiri groups.
It and several other newspapers reported the arrests foiled a plot to murder Gandhi, whose mother, Indira Gandhi, was slain in New Delhi Oct. 31. 1984. by two of her Sikh body guards. ;
Mrs. Gandhi became a target for Sikh anger when she sent troops to storm the Golden Temple at Amritsar, India, the Sikh religion’s holiest shrine.
Two members of the Kashmiri Liberation Front, seeking independence for the north Indian province of Kashmir, were jailed for life in Britain last February for killing the Assistant Indian High Commissioner in Birmingham. Gandhi arrives for two days of talks and will meet Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher before flying to the Commonwealth conference in the Bahamas.
Newspaper reports said they will discuss the possible purchase by India of weapon systems and helicopters.
Article extracted from this publication >> October 18, 1985