By Meenakshi Iyer
New Delhi, Mar 26 (IANS): Khalistani sympathisers maintain an active presence in countries like the US, UK, Australia, Germany, and Canada, that boast of a sizable Sikh population.
According to police and intelligence officials in Punjab, nine organisations operating out of six different countries, including Pakistan, are to blame for the spurt in violence and terror.
A number of groups associated with the movement are listed as "terrorist organisations" under India's Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.
With the forgotten Khalistani slogans being revived once again, a look at the top pro-Khalistan organisations operating abroad:
1. SIKHS FOR JUSTICE (SFJ)
Leader: Gurpatwant Singh Pannu
Active presence: Australia, the US, Canada
India has banned this separatist group, founded in 2007, on grounds of secessionism. Operating out of the US, the group has been organising referendums for secession of Punjab from India, the first phase of which started from London on October 31, 2021. This was followed by referendums in Canada and Australia in 2022 and 2023 respectively, leading to clashes between pro-Khalistani and Indian groups in Canberra.
2. BABBAR KHALSA INTERNATIONAL (BKI)
Leader: Wadhawa Singh Babbar
Active presence: Pakistan, Germany, Canada, the UK, Norway, Switzerland, France
Founded by Sukhdev Singh Babbar and Talwinder Singh Parmar in 1978, BKI's activities include armed attacks, assassinations, and bombings. Its present leader, Wadhwa Singh, is reportedly hiding in Pakistan. The group gained notoriety in June 1985, for killing 329 civilians onboard Air India Flight 182.
3. KHALISTAN ZINDABAD FORCE (KZF)
Leader: Ranjeet Singh Neeta
Active presence: Pakistan, Canada, Germany, and parts of Europe
The KZF has close links with several terrorist groups active in Jammu and Kashmir, including the Hizb-ul-Mujahideen. Its German operations are handled by Bhupinder Singh Bhind and Gurmeet Singh Bagga. Neeta, who is reportedly hiding in Pakistan, is accused of carrying out several bomb blasts between 1988 and 1999 in Jammu and Pathankot. He has also been accused in the 2001 murder of the Deputy Superintendent of Police in J&K.
4. INTERNATIONAL SIKH YOUTH FEDERATION (ISYF)
Leader: Lakhbir Singh Rode
Active presence: Canada, the UK, US, parts of Western Europe
Proscribed in India under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA), 2002, ISYF was founded in the UK in 1984 after Operation Blue Star by Amrik Singh and Lakhbir Singh Rode, nephew of Jarnail Singh Bhinderanwale. Rode is suspected to be in Lahore at present. The ISYF has been engaged in terrorist attacks, assassinations and bombings. Its member, Inderjit Singh Reyat, was found guilty of manslaughter for making the bombs used in 1985 Air India flight bombing.
5. AMERICAN GURDWARA PRABANDHAK COMMITTEE
Leader: Pritpal Singh
Active presence: US
It was involved in a number of terrorist incidents, including a bank robbery in Ludhiana.
6. WORLD SIKH ORGANIZATION
Leader: Tejinder Singh Sidhu
Active presence: Canada, US
Formed in July 1984, the organisation came into limelight when former Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh termed Canadian defence minister Harjit Singh Sajjan a Khalistani sympathiser. Most of its members are second and third generation Sikhs. The Ottawa-based organisation claims to fight for the human rights of Sikhs as its major area of work
7. KHALISTAN AFFAIRS CENTRE
Leader: Amarjit Singh
Active presence: Washington DC
It is a close associate of International Sikh Youth Federation.
8. KHALISTAN COMMANDO FORCE
Leader: Paramjit Singh Panjwar
Active presence: Canada, UK, Pakistan
Founded by Manbir Singh Chaheru in August 1986, KCF primarily targeted Indian security forces, as well as Hindus. It was also involved in the 1995 assassination of Punjab CM Beant Singh. The group later broke into multiple factions. According to reports, Panjwar is in Pakistan and is supported by the ISI.
9. KHALISTAN LIBERATION FORCE
Leader: Gurjeet Singh Cheema
Active presence: Canada
Founded by Aroor Singh and Sukhvinder Singh Babbar, KLF was responsible for bombing several military targets in India during the 1980s and 1990s. It claimed responsibility for the 1991 abduction of the Romanian chargé d'affaires in New Delhi, Liviu Radu. It is funded by diaspora in Spain, Malaysia, US and the UK.
10. KHALISTAN TIGER FORCE
Leader: Hardeep Singer Nijjar
Active presence: Canada, UK
Also linked to SFJ, Nijjar is accused of conspiring to carry out terror attacks in India. Listing it as a terrorist organisation in 2023, India said KTF is a militant outfit and it aims to revive terrorism in Punjab. It challenges the territorial integrity, unity, national security and sovereignty of India and promotes various acts of terrorism, including targeted killings in Punjab.
11. SIKH YOUTH OF AMERICA
Leaders: S Kang, John Gill, and Jasjit Singh Fauji
Active presence: US
According to South Asia Terrorism Portal, this group, along with the SIKH YOUTH OF BELGIUM, works in close alliance with the International Sikh Youth Federation and Khalistan Commando Force.
12. DAL KHALSA INTERNATIONAL
Leader: Ajit Singh Pannu
Active presence: US, UK
It was banned by India in 1982 along with the National Council of Khalistan.
Other prominent groups include, US-based Council of Khalistan, headed by Gurmeet Singh Aulakh and Kamagata Maru Dal of Germany.