Report Wire - The lengthy shadow of Khalistan

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The lengthy shadow of Khalistan

8 min read
The long shadow of Khalistan

It was round 7.45 pm on the night time of May 9 when the intelligence wing headquarters of Punjab Police in scenic Mohali was out of the blue rocked by a mini blast and the sound of shattered window panes. The assault, utilizing an RPG (rocket-propelled grenade), occurred when a lot of the sleuths had left for the day, so there have been no cas­ualties. But it once more raised a safety age­ncies bogey—the lengthy shadow of the Kha­listan motion hasn’t light away as but.

It was round 7.45 pm on the night time of May 9 when the intelligence wing headquarters of Punjab Police in scenic Mohali was out of the blue rocked by a mini blast and the sound of shattered window panes. The assault, utilizing an RPG (rocket-propelled grenade), occurred when a lot of the sleuths had left for the day, so there have been no cas­ualties. But it once more raised a safety age­ncies bogey—the lengthy shadow of the Kha­listan motion hasn’t light away as but.

Soon after the assault, a voice observe landed at Himachal Pradesh chief minister Jai Ram Thakur’s workplace claiming to be from New York-based Gurpatwant Pannun, founding father of the banned Khalistani outfit Sikhs for Justice. It claimed credit score for the assault in Mohali and left a menace that the Shimla Police HQ could possibly be subsequent. But investigators quickly rev­ealed that it was a bogus declare; the Mohali assault was apparently engineered by gangster-turned-militant Harvinder Singh Sandhu, a.ok.a. Rinda Sandhu.

More than the blast itself, it was the timing that added insult to harm for the state police. Punjab Police has been criticised for its overzealousness in registering police instances in opposition to the political rivals of the ruling Aam Aadmi Party, allegedly for making defamatory remarks in opposition to get together chief Arvind Kejriwal. The try and arrest controversial BJP youth wing chief Tajinder Bagga from his Delhi residence, violating laid-down norms, had gone south after the police departments of two different states, Delhi and Haryana, obtained concerned. They not solely needed to launch Bagga however the courts stayed his arrest until July 5. Similarly, the try and guide poet and ex-AAP member Kumar Vishwas and Congress chief Alka Lamba additionally backfired. Vishwas had referred to as Kejriwal a “Khalistan supporter”.

So Khalistan is within the information once more, due to a sequence of mysterious incidents that lack any resemblance to the terrorist violence of the separatist motion in its heyday. In the final week of April, a so-called ‘Khalistan-murdabad’ march of a nebulous fringe Hindutva outfit, the ‘Shiv Sena (Bal Thackeray)’ turned violent in Patiala after it was att­acked by Nihangs and different Sikh teams. According to information studies, the ‘Shiv Sena’ chief Harsh Singla was additionally attacked by native Hindu teams angered by his provocation of Sikh sentiments. Curfew was imposed to revive order, however there was no lack of life.

Punjab Police is investigating the Mohali blast. Those who conspire to disrupt peace and concord within the state is not going to be spared

– Bhagwant Mann, Chief Minister, Punjab

The Hindutva outfit, for its half, maintained that it was protesting an alleged name by Pannun for a ‘Khalistan sthapna diwas (Khalistan foundation day)’ on April 29. Singla was arrested and solely after protests from different Hindutva organisations did the cops additionally guide the chief of the unconventional Sikh outfit Damdami Taksal Jatha, Barjinder Parwana, for his outfit’s half within the violence.

Punjab chief minister Bhagwant Mann has given reassurances after the Patiala and Mohali incidents that the state police will crack down on all parts creating hassle within the state. “The police are investigating the Mohali blast. Those who conspire to disrupt the peace and harmony in the state will not be spared,” mentioned Mann, who additionally heads the house ministry. However, the opposition BJP will not be satisfied. “The police and security agencies are pointing fingers at the Khalistanis, but the CM refuses to criticise them,” says Subhash Sharma, the BJP state unit common secretary.

Meanwhile, in Himachal Pradesh, a Special Investigation Team is probing a curious case from the night time of May 7 when Khalistani flags had been discovered tied to the gates of the state (winter) meeting constructing in Dha­ram­shala. The police once more see the hand of SFJ’s Pannun in instigating native parts.

The response of state governments to such incidents suggests a rising concentrate on the involvement of legal gangs within the title of ‘Khalistan’. The new AAP authorities led by Mann has constituted an anti-gangster squad within the Punjab police below ADGP Pramod Ban, however it’s early days but. Police sources say there are 70 organised gangs with over 500 recognized members lively within the state. Some 300 gangsters are lodged in several jails. The variety of gangs has risen thrice within the previous 5-7 years. One of them, led by Rinda, has prolonged the gangster community in north India to pro-Khalistani militant outfits run from Pakistan, say safety companies. These cross-border outfits apparently embrace the Wadhawa Singh Babbar-led Babbar Khalsa International (BKI), the Lakhbir Singh Rode—nephew of slain terrorist Jarnail Singh Bhindrawale—led Khalistan Liberation Force (KLF), Ranjeet Singh Neeta-led Khalistan Zindabad Force (KZF) and Paramjit Panjwar’s Khalistan Commando Force (KCF). All these outfits are reportedly busy as of late pushing counterfeit foreign money, medicine and arms into India together with ordering focused killings and assaults. Rinda is suspected to have fled to Pakistan through Nepal in 2019 on a faux passport and joined Babbar’s outfit. He apparently organised the blasts in Ludhiana, Nawanshahr and at a police station in Ropar earlier this 12 months to create a reputation for himself.

Early final 12 months, Punjab Police efficiently extradited one other gangster, Sukh Bhikhariwal, from Dubai. His gang is suspected to have executed anti-Khalistan activist and Shaurya Chakra winner Balwinder Sandhu in Tarn Taran district on the instruction of KLF’s Rode. In January this 12 months, in a joint operation, police within the Ramdas space of Amritsar and Dinanagar space of Gurdaspur cracked a clique of gangsters apparently working as couriers for Rode and KCF’s Panjwar.

Former Punjab DGP Shashikant says Khalistani outfits are attempting once more to destabilise the peaceable ambiance within the state by concentrating on social and spiritual leaders. Retired Punjab Police IG Jagdish Mittal pulls out state police information to counsel that previously decade, these teams might have executed greater than 100 folks, together with RSS leaders, Hindu leaders of outfits linked to the Congress, leaders of fringe Hindutva outfits, Christian pastors and so forth.

Sikh protesters collect at Fountain Chowk in Patiala after the conflict with the ‘Shiv Sena (BT)’, Apr. 29; (Photo: Harmeet Sodhi)

Rinda was additionally allegedly utilizing his community to ship arms consignments to terror teams in Punjab and Kashmir, and Maoists in central and east India. On May 5, after inputs from the Intelligence Bureau (IB) and Punjab Police’s intelligence wing, the Haryana police nabbed 4 gangsters—Gurpreet Singh, Amandeep Singh, Parminder Singh and Bhupinder Singh—who had been suspected to be carriers employed by Rinda to ship explosives at Adilabad in Telangana. Border Security Force (BSF) groups, together with police groups from Maharashtra and Telangana, are at the moment tenting in Haryana’s Karnal for his or her interrogation. The Haryana police recovered improvised explosive units (IEDs), 7.5 kg of RDX, 30 dwell cartridges, a pistol and Rs 1.3 lakh in money from them at a toll plaza in Karnal. Security companies consider the 4 have already delivered two consignments in Nanded, Maharashtra, and suspect that the plan was to execute serial blasts in Mumbai. The police are but to establish the precise vacation spot for the seized explosives. Rinda apparently used to ship them areas on an app, guiding them on the place and when to make deliveries, Karnal SP Ganga Ram Punia informed india at present.

Born in Tarn Taran district, Rinda grew up in Nanded earlier than coming again to attend Panjab University in 2015. But he continued to run his gang there whereas extending his operations to Punjab. A proclaimed offender (PO), the Nanded police have charged him in two homicide instances together with instances of extortion going way back to February 2016.

Author and commentator Jagtar Sandhu says it is a new pattern seen previously few years the place Khalistani teams have began utilizing criminals and gangsters, and never ideologically dedicated folks, to get their work executed. Jagdish Mittal says most of these concerned in terror incidents should not even Sikhs. They are from poor households, principally unemployed and had been promised cash or a future overseas.

Top officers on the Indian safety companies say the Pakistani intelligence service ISI has floated a brand new platform, the Lashkar-e-Khalsa, with Pakistan-based Khalistani outfits to coach and supply logistics to those legal parts. The Indian companies consider Taliban mercenaries too are a part of the group to supply weapons coaching. Incidentally, the Mohali assault on the Intelligence HQ used a Chinese-made RPG. The weapon has been a favorite of the Taliban in Afghanistan and Syrian rebels. In India, Naxal outfits in Chhattisgarh are mentioned to have entry to it, however it is a first for Khalistani outfits. In January this 12 months, the Gurdaspur police had recovered an under-barrel grenade launcher (UBGL) from the Dinanagar space of town. It was apparently air-dropped utilizing drones by Rode. Indian officers say the ISI has been serving to these outfits in utilizing drones since 2019 to dump weapons and medicines within the border districts of Punjab and J&Okay. Then chief minister Amarinder Singh had ready a file linking the air-dropping of weapons and medicines with Khalistani terror outfits, however nothing a lot got here of it.

Keeping the pot of Khalistani sentiment boiling does assist the outfits sitting in Pakistan, UK, USA, EU, Australia and Canada. The motion’s second avatar now has a much more influential Sikh diaspora extending it logistical help. Organisations just like the SFJ and the Canada-based Poetic Justice Foundation are a part of a standard Khalistan community whose propaganda is carried out via the gurdwaras of their international locations.

The protests in opposition to the contenti­ous farm legal guidelines grew to become another excuse to whip up anti-government sentiments among the many Sikh diaspora. Security companies at the moment are rigorously analysing the tweets and statements of Sikh politicians in UK and Canada. In mid-April, the BJP had criticised Mann for internet hosting British Labour MP Tanman­jeet Singh Dhesi, who routinely ampli­fies rights violati­ons by Indian safety companies in Kashmir. In December 2020, at a protest Dhesi organised in London reverse the Indian High Commission, pro-Khalistan slogans too had been raised. The attendees included Khalistan Tiger Force’s Paramjit Pamma. Dhesi, nonetheless, denies any hyperlinks to Khalistani outfits. In the previous, Mann’s predecessors like Parkash Singh Badal and Amarinder remained additional cautious whereas assembly controversial Sikh politicians from the West. In truth, Amarinder had refused to satisfy Canadian minister Harjit Singh Sajjan in 2017 saying his household had hyperlinks with pro-Khalistan outfits.

Meanwhile, Jagtar Sandhu beli­eves the Khalistan motion might have died however the thought has not. The weapons seizures, scattered violence and recalcitrant parts elevating the Khalistan difficulty at public boards are all incidents in continuity. “It’s a cat-and-mouse game. The government of the day will have to crack down while these elements will continue with their bench job.” For now, he says, it’s a regulation and order downside however an answer must be political. Meanwhile, the police in Punjab are embarrassed with the assault on their intelligence HQ and the residents anxious. Mann is assuring motion, however mere phrases received’t suffice this time.