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Thursday, Oct 24, 2019

Terror redux: Why Punjab is on the edge, again

Is Lashkar colluding with Babbar Khalsa to reignite terrorism in the state?

india Updated: Nov 06, 2011 01:35 IST
Manpreet Randhawa
Manpreet Randhawa
Hindustan Times

The recovery of an RDX-loaded car in Ambala on October 12 has again raised suspicion about attempts being made by anti-national elements to reignite terrorism in Punjab with the help of Sikh militants based abroad and terror outfit Lashkar-e-Taiba.

The National Investigation Agency probe has hinted at the high intensity explosive being sourced and smuggled by Lashkar for a terror plot hatched by dreaded militant outfit Babbar Khalsa. Some Babbar Khalsa top leaders including chief Wadhawa Singh and its cadres are still active in Pakistan and a few European countries including England and Germany.

In a letter, the Khalistan Tiger Force (KTF) headed by Jagtar Singh Tara, who is believed to be in Pakistan, claimed responsibility for importing the explosive into Indian territory to eliminate Delhi-based Congress leader Sajjan Kumar for his alleged involvement in the anti-Sikh riots of 1984.
Punjab Director General of Police, Anil Kaushik, however, said it could be an attempt to mislead investigators.

"Such letters will not affect our probe. It was a plot of the Babbar Khalsa and LeT."

During a conference of director general of state police chiefs, former Intelligence Bureau chief Rajiv Mathur said there were attempts by inimical agencies to reactivate terror elements and forge a nexus with the LeT for violence in Punjab. In May 2010 the Punjab Police arrested Khalistan Liberation Force (KLF) militant Bakshish Singh alias Baba in Amritsar district and recovered 2.3 kg of RDX from him. Baba revealed that the KLF had set base in Malaysia to recruit cadres from amongst illegal immigrants from Punjab. He said he was working at the behest of Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence and had
planted explosive devices outside an LPG bottling plant in Nabha and in a car near Indian Air Force’s Halwara base in January last year.

The last bomb blast in the state occurred at the Shingar cinema hall in Ludhiana in 2007 in which seven people died and about 20 were wounded. After that, although attempts were made to cause similar blasts at Nabha, Pathankot and Jalandhar bus stand, but they were detected and defused in the nick of time.
Over the last three years, nearly 100 activists have been arrested in Punjab for anti-national activities but just 10 of them were hard-core terrorists.

“People have rejected the concept of Khalistan. It is no longer an issue in Punjab. It has neither religious nor community support. In the past 15 years, successive governments have quelled attempts for the revival of militancy. In the recent Shiromani Gurudwara Prabhandhak Committee poll results, Sikhs rejected Simranjit Singh Mann, his son and other hardliners,” said a senior Shiromani Akali Dal leader.

The narco factor
Owing to its proximity to the Golden Crescent (Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran), 45 % of the drugs that transit through India are smuggled through Punjab. Pakistan-based militant outfits are pushing in weapons along with the drugs from across the border. No wonder the state saw the highest number, 5508, of Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act (NDPS) cases in 2010.

Last year the police nabbed four UK-based Sikh militants, members of Babbar Khalsa international (BKI) in connection with the shooting of Rashtriya Sikh Sangat leader Rulda Singh. The conspiracy to shoot him dead was allegedly hatched by BKI’s Pramjit Singh Pamma.

Similarly German authorities had arrested Gurmit Singh alias Bagga, Bhupinder Singh alias Bhinda, Jagtar Singh Mahal and Sukhpreet Singh Mahal who allegedly conspired to eliminate Radha Soami Satsang Dera Beas head Gurinder Singh Vienna last year. All the four owed their allegiance to the Khalistan Zindabad Force.

First Published: Nov 05, 2011 22:14 IST

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