The UK surely knows better

  • Hindustan Times
  • Updated: Oct 15, 2014 00:20 IST

The 9/11 attacks were a turning point in the fight against terror. Many countries joined hands with the George W Bush administration to fight this scourge.

The general consensus, which holds true even now, was that terror recognises no national boundaries and nations should come together to fight this evil, whatever else their differences may be. Britain is an active member in the United States’ ‘War against Terror’ coalition — it didn’t think twice before invading Afghanistan and Iraq.

Given this the October 13 Hindustan Times news report that London has denied New Delhi evidence on operatives of the terror outfit Babbar Khalsa International until India repealed the death penalty is baffling.

The Babbar Khalsa International (BKI) is a terrorist organisation that is fighting for Sikh separatism. While it was active during the eighties and well into the nineties, it has since been on the decline.

Of the many murders carried out by the group over the decades, the most notorious was the 1995 suicide attack on the Chandigarh secretariat in which then chief minister Beant Singh was assassinated. The BKI was back in the news in 2012, when four men associated with the group in London attempted to kill Lt Gen Kuldeep Singh Brar, who commanded Operation Blue Star in 1984.

India had, under the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT), requested Britain to provide information on the BKI’s fund-raising activities. Britain refused to share the details about the operatives.

This move by London is illogical and defeats the efforts to fight terror. The war against terror is a concerted effort in which data and expertise must be shared for effective results.

The irony here is that the BKI is a group proscribed by Britain since March 2001. The debate on the death penalty should not hinder this effort and help terror groups exploit these differences. Britain’s reluctance poses tough questions: Does this mean that Britain would not share information with a nation that is yet to abolish the death penalty? Would Britain refuse to share information with the US, in which 32 of the 50 states still have the death penalty? If ISIS or al Qaeda operatives were to work out of Britain against India, would London not cooperate with New Delhi? Britain, which has been a victim of terror itself, surely knows better than to be so obdurate on this issue.

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