Lakhbir Singh Rode: Khalistani who sought to revive terror in Punjab with ISI’s help
Rode, who was named a mastermind of tiffin bombs in Punjab, was involved in smuggling arms and ammunition via Jammu and Kashmir with the help of Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba
Pakistan-based outlawed International Sikh Youth Federation (ISYF) chief Lakhbir Singh Rode, 71, who died in Lahore on Monday, was one of the most wanted Khalistani terrorists trying to revive terrorism in Punjab with the help of Pakistani spy agency Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).
Rode was a nephew of Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, whose killing in the 1984 Operation Bluestar against the insurgents holed up in Amritsar’s Golden Temple, the holiest Sikh shrine, fuelled the insurgency in Punjab. He fled to Pakistan in 1991 as the insurgency was being suppressed.
Rode, who was designated an individual terrorist under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), lived in a posh locality in Lahore under the Pakistan Army’s patronage, according to a Punjab Police dossier. A special court in Punjab’s Mohali ordered the confiscation of his land based on the designation.
Rode, who was named a mastermind of tiffin bombs in Punjab, was involved in smuggling arms and ammunition via Jammu and Kashmir with the help of Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba. In 2010, security forces said they killed Rode’s three aides when they were trying to cross over to India with arms to carry out terrorist attacks.
People aware of the matter said Rode joined hands with Pakistan-based Khalistani terrorists Ranjeet Neeta and Harmeet PhD in 2017. The Punjab Police said they busted modules and recovered grenades and pistols the three smuggled into India.
The National Investigation Agency (NIA) booked Rode in October 2021 under the Explosive Substances Act, the UAPA, Narcotic-Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act in connection with a tiffin bomb blast near a bank in Fazilka a month earlier.
Rode’s ISYF was banned under the Prevention of Terrorist Activities Act in 2002. The group was proscribed in the United Kingdom a year earlier. All tiffin bomb modules busted in the last couple of years in Punjab were believed to be his handiwork.
Rode was designated as the main conspirator of the 2021 Ludhiana court blast, which left one person dead and six injured. Rode’s nephew was arrested after RDX and a tiffin bomb was recovered in Jalandhar the same year.
Balwinder Singh, who was awarded Shaurya Chakra for his role in fighting terrorism, was allegedly killed at Rode’s behest in Punjab’s Tarn Taran in 2020. Rode’s son, Bhaggu Brar, has been accused of promoting anti-India activities in Canada besides carrying out terrorist activities in Punjab. He regularly travelled to Pakistan to provide arms and funds to his father.
In February this year, nine people, including Rode, were booked for smuggling arms, ammunition, drugs, and explosives using drones from across the border. Smuggling of ammunition via unmanned aerial vehicles emerged as a major challenge for security forces as they sought to prevent the revival of terrorism in the region.
In June 2021, two Indian Air Force personnel were injured in blasts carried out through drones at the Jammu airport, which is used for strategic operations and VVIP movements. Multiple Pakistani drones continued to be detected along the India-Pakistan border in the following years.
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