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Beyond the News: Was Khalistan Liberation Force “Lawful” Till Yesterday?

December 29, 2018 | By

author: Kanwarpal Singh*

I am not surprised that KLF has been banned by MHA of India. I am not surprised that it has been added into the list of 40-odd organizations, all representing minority or ethnic communities that have been proscribed by India under the draconian Unlawful Activities and Prevention Act (UAPA) 1967.

I am also not surprised that no one will question as to why Abhinav Bharat has not been proscribed despite its direct involvement in a series of bomb blasts targeting the Muslim population in India.

I am surprised that the Khalistan Liberation Force- the KLF, which had hogged headlines over a decade was not banned till yesterday!!

As an active participant in the political affairs of the movement for Sikh freedom over the last few decades, it is this sense of surprise that prompted me to give a run-up to the KLF in this piece.

Why did it take the government of India more than three decades to proscribe a body which was dreaded by the Indian police and paramilitary forces?

The Government of India through a notification has banned the Khalistan Liberation force, the Sikh armed group set by a Sikh warrior Avtar Singh Brahma in 1986.

After his martyrdom, the baton was passed to a fearless commander, Gurjant Singh Budhsinghwala, who indulged in daring operations against the police, security forces and anti-Sikh politicians.

When he attained martyrdom in an encounter in July 1992 in Ludhiana, the reins were passed on to Dr Pritam Singh Sekhon, who was known for his intellect and bravery.

After the suppression of the Khalistan armed struggle and more so after the demise of Dr Sekhon, in the middle of 1995, KLF turned dormant.

The sudden announcement of the ban on the organisation by the government of India has amusingly surprised many! Does this mean that the organisation was not banned till date? It is made to understand that now the ban has been imposed on the recommendation of the NIA –the National Investigation Agency because KLF has been named as the group behind the targeted killings of Hindu leaders in Punjab in the last two years.

In its Dec 27 orders, the Government through a notification has banned KLF for its fresh activities. But hasn’t answered why it did not banned when it was formed though the MHA has admitted that this body was formed in 1986 with an objective to secede Punjab from India through violent means.

KLF was loved and feared both. It was a name to reckon with in the heydays of militancy in Punjab.

Why this organisation was not proscribed till yesterday? Is it a lapse on part of successive governments? Is the Indian agencies so naive or incompetent?

It is mind-boggling that the state chooses to ban an organisation when the fighting spirit and striking capacity of its members has diminished as compared to it was under the command of Jathedar Brahma and Bhai Budhsinghwala.

KLF first got aligned with another revolutionary armed group Babbar Khalsa in 1987-88 and subsequently became an important part of Panthic Committee led by Dr Sohan Singh that spearheaded the Khalistan armed struggle. How come a militant organization, whose writ ran from 1986 to 1993 went without notice while all other Sikh militant groups were banned?

It will be interesting to see if Home Ministry clears the air.

  • Author is a political observer and analyst. He is also spokesperson of pro-freedom Sikh group Dal Khalsa.

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