Why the rise of Sikh separatism in the United States needs to be flagged harder
New Delhi, Sep 15: The Indian security agencies have repeatedly stated that the Khalistan terrorists backed by the ISI would look to make a comeback. While the terror modules within the country are largely under control, the worry is the rise of Sikh separatism.
For several years now, groups backing the Khalistan movement have operated in the United States, Canada and London. The Sikhs for Justice in particular is a notorious outfit led by proscribed terrorist, Gurpatwant Singh Pannun. He was declared as an individual terrorist under the UAPA from promoting secessionism and encouraging Sikh youth to take up arms.
In the backdrop of the same, a leading think-tank in the United States said that the US cannot allow separatist movements from India, including those with ties to militant and terrorist groups, to grow unchecked among its otherwise law-abiding Sikh community. The report published by the Hudson Institute is titled, "Pakistan's Destabilisation Playbook: Khalistani Activism in the US." The report has been jointly authored by leading experts, Husain Haqqani, Christine Fair, Aparna Pande, Sam Westrop, Seth Oldmixon and Michael Rubin.
The report points out that the experience with Islamist extremist groups must serve as a template for dealing with Khalistan extremists. Recruitments or fundraising for militancy or martyrdom should not be allowed on US soil even if the actual acts of violence are to take place far away in India. The authorities must not let the ostensibly peaceful pro-Khalistan activism become the precursor of a new wave of violence in India's Punjab state, the report also says.
The report also take note of the SFJ and said that its leadership made no attempt to conceal its links to Pakistan. The outfit opened a permanent office in Lahore, Pakistan in 2019.In 2019, Pannun organised a truck rally in Houston against Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Howdy Modi event. It also joined Pakistan backed Kashmir separatists, the report noted.
Earlier this year, the National Investigation Agency filed a chargesheet against 7 operatives of the Babbar Khalsa International. The Babbar Khalsa-ISI salsa was pointed out by the Intelligence Bureau in 2012 as well. The report said that the BKI with the ISI was drumming up support abroad and in the bargain earned a lot of sympathisers. While Pakistan continued to provide shelter, the Khalistan outfits began drumming up support abroad, especially in Canada, UK and the US.
An IB officer tells OneIndia that in the case of the Babbar Khalsa, the main hubs apart from Pakistan were in Wolverhampton and Birmingham in the United Kingdom. A majority of the terror funds would land in these places and the same would be generated in Canada. A team of the ISI operates in Wolverhampton only to oversee the international operations of the BKI.