Khalistan: Babbar Khalsa, Lashkar share common office outside Nankana Sahib
New Delhi, Nov 20: The attack at Amritsar has once again triggered the debate on the rise of Khalistan militancy in Punjab. Preliminary investigations into Sunday's attack which claimed three lives revealed that the ISI had stage managed this attack to create a wedge between the Sikhs and the Nirankaris.
The link between the ISI and the Khalistan Forces goes a long way back. Post the crackdown on terror in Punjab, several top leaders of the Khalistan groups had fled to Pakistan. They were given shelter, training and also assured that they would be launched into India at an appropriate time.
Back in 2007, these groups tested the waters, when they carried out a blast at a cinema hall in Ludhiana in which 6 persons died and 30 others were injured. The police said that this was an act carried out by the pro-Khalistan forces with the help of the ISI.
Sowing the seeds of terror:
Back in 2005, the Intelligence Bureau had prepared a detailed report on how terrorism in Punjab was being revived. It spoke about a plan that was hatched in 2001 to revive terrorism. The report also spoke about an extensive training programme that lasted a month in Pakistan.
At this month long training camp, both terrorists of the Babbar Khalsa International and Lashkar-e-Tayiba trained together. It was also found that they were operating in a common office that has been set up outside the Nankana Sahib, a small town in the sub divisional headquarter of Shekhpura in West Punjab, Pakistan.
During this period the ISI went out of its way to ensure that these terrorists were provided for aptly and also protected. The ISI had under its shelter outfits such as the Babbar Khalsa International, Khalistan Zindabad Force, International Sikh Youth Federation, Khalistan Commando Force and Dal Khalsa. When the 9/11 attack took place, the ISI immediately moved all these terrorists to Islamabad, so that they remained protected from the US attack. More importantly, the ISI did not want this nexus exposed.
The historic links:
Apart from the Lashkar-e-Tayiba, these groups also worked closely with the Jamaat-e-Islami. In 2006, the Indian agencies picked up intercepts about a meeting between the JeM and BKI, which was held at Mansoora. The JeM offered the BKI shelter, arms and ammunition and also training.
The bigger game plan by the ISI was to portray both terrorists from Punjab and Kashmir as natural allies fighting the government of India. The ISI would cite the historic links between the Sikhs and Muslims in a bid to create a common ground between them.
The ISI had also gone ahead and set up the Pakistan Sikh Gurudwara Prabhandak Committee. The formation of this committee increased the interaction between the pro-Khalistani forces. Pakistan also went a step ahead and liberalised the visas for these persons.
In this context, it would also be important to mention that the Sikhs for Justice proposes to sponsor the pilgrimage of several Sikhs to Pakistan next year. The SJF, which is a pro-khalistan organisation which works in Canada, Europe and UK had recently promoted the London Declaration of the Referendum 2020.
The SJF is now planning to fund the visit of nearly a lakh Sikh pilgrims to celebrate the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak next year. The agencies in India believe that the ISI would try and propagate among the pilgrims the need for a pro-Khalistan movement.