July 2, 2020 | By Sikh Siyasat Bureau
In 1980s-90s the Indian state created so-called black list of Sikhs, adding names of diaspora Sikh activists in it in a whole-sale manner. The issue had been a cause of concern in the past decade as a number of cases surfaced where the abuse this extra-judicial mechanism was clearly established.
The BJP government, after Narendra Modi’s 2015 visit to England, claimed credit for itself on multiple occasions for ‘abolishing’ this so-called black list of Sikhs. While the effectiveness such claims remains to be verified, the Government of India (GoI) has included names of 9 Sikhs with yet another list, while designating them as ‘terrorists’.
The Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India (GoI) has issued a list of 9 Sikhs who have been ‘designated as terrorists’ by the Government of India under the UAPA. Notably, UAPA or the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act is considered as new avatar of draconian laws like TADA and POTA that were discontinued after there was huge public outcry against widespread misuse of such laws.
Notably, the provision to designate individuals as ‘terrorists’ was added in the UAPA in August 2019. Prior to the aforesaid amendment only organizations could be designated as terrorist organizations.
The MHA has declared the following nine individuals as designated terrorists under the provisions of the UAPA Act 1967 (as amended in 2019) and included their names in the Fourth Schedule of the said Act.
Their details, as shared by the MHA, GoI, are as under :-
1. Wadhawa Singh Babbar. According to MHA, GoI Wadhawa Singh Babbar is based in Pakistan and is chief of “BabbarKhalsa International”.
2. Lakhbir Singh. As per MHA, GoI he is also based in Pakistan and is chief of “International Sikh Youth Federation”.
3. Ranjeet Singh. MHA says that he is also based in Pakistan and is Chief of “Khalistan Zindabad Force”.
4. Paramjit Singh. MHA maintains he is also in Pakistan and is Chief of “Khalistan Commando Force”.
5. Bhupinder Singh Bhinda. MHA says that Bhupinder Singh Bhinda is in Germany and is key member of “Khalistan Zindabad Force”.
6. Gurmeet Singh Bagga. According to MHA, GoI he is in Germany and is a key member of “Khalistan ZindabadForce”.
7. Gurpatwant Singh Pannun. MHA, GoI says that Gurpatwant Singh Pannun is based in USA and is a key member of “Sikh for Justice”.
8. Hardeep Singh Nijjar. MHA says that Hardeep Singh Nijjar is based in Canada and is Chief of “Khalistan Tiger Force”.
9. Paramjit Singh. According to MHA Paramjit Singh is based in United Kingdom and is chief of “BabbarKhalsa International”.
If one goes through the list of names, it becomes clear that many of the names (e.g. 1. to 4.) are reproduction of names from India’s “most wanted” list that keeps making news headlines once or twice a year. Indian government says that these individuals are based in Pakistan, a claim to which later does not subscribe. So in public sphere the information regarding their whereabouts are contested claims.
Others included in the list (e.g. 6 to 9) are individuals who are openly living in Western countries such as UK, Canada and USA and are engaged in activism. These persons have some cases registered against them in Punjab and India in recent years.
In all MHA has named 9 individuals, who according to MHA are linked to named organisations. The MHA has list includes names of six organisations –
(a) Babbar Khalsa International,
(b) International Sikh Youth Federation,
(c) Khalistan Zindabad Force,
(d) Khalistan Commando Force,
(e) Sikhs for Justice
(f) Khalistan Tiger Force.
While the MHA (GoI) has described Babbar Khalsa International (BKI), International Sikh Youth Federation (ISYF), Khalistan Zindabad Force (KZF), Khalistan Commando Force (KCF) as ‘terrorist organisations’ in its press release (copy available with SSN), it has described Sikhs for Justice (SFJ) as “Unlawful Association” and it did not use any such adjective for Khalistan Tiger Force (KTF).
The power to designate individuals as ‘terrorists’ is clearly an extra-judicial arrangement. The process is simple that any one becomes ‘terrorist’ in the eyes of state and its organs by mere declaration by the executive. It is like pronouncing someone as guilty without even holding a trial. This power at the hands of executive clearly bypasses the judicial procedures while avoiding any judicial scrutiny.
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