A HIS­TORY OF VI­O­LENCE

From the Kan­ishka bomb­ing to the as­sas­si­na­tion of Beant Singh, Bab­bar Khalsa has been at the fore­front of mil­i­tant vi­o­lence

India Today - - COVER STORY -

The long­est-sur­viv­ing Khal­is­tani mil­i­tant group, the Bab­bar Khalsa In­ter­na­tional ( BKI), has been re­spon­si­ble for some of the big­gest ter­ror­ist strikes in­clud­ing the mid-air bomb­ing of Air In­dia Flight 182 Kan­ishka in 1985. Presently headed by Wad­hawa Singh Bab­bar alias Chacha from La­hore, Pak­istan, the BKI re­mains the most or­gan­ised Sikh mil­i­tant or­gan­i­sa­tion with sup­port­ers in North Amer­ica, Europe, South Asia and Aus­tralia. Cre­ated in the wake of a bloody clash be­tween Sikhs and ad­her­ents of the break­away Ni­rankari sect in Amritsar on April 13, 1978, the BKI’S ex­is­tence as a mil­i­tant group was first no­ticed in leaflets in 1980 shortly af­ter the as­sas­si­na­tion of the Ni­rankari chief Gur­bachan Singh.

Sukhdev Singh Bab­bar, his brother Me­hal Singh, In­di­anCana­dian Tal­winder Par­mar and Wad­hawa Singh were found­ing mem­bers of the group, which formed its first armed unit un­der Par­mar in Canada in 1981. Four years later, he ex­e­cuted the Kan­ishka bomb­ing, killing 329 peo­ple.

Af­ter both Sukhdev and Par­mar were killed in en­coun­ters with the Pun­jab Po­lice in 1992, the lead­er­ship moved to Wad­hawa and Me­hal in Pak­istan. The two plot­ted the as­sas­si­na­tion of then Pun­jab chief min­is­ter Beant Singh in Au­gust 1995.

In 2003, Me­hal moved to Paris fol­low­ing dif­fer­ences with Wad­hawa who sought to re­build the BKI by or­gan­is­ing the Jan­uary 2004 Bu­rail jail­break to lib­er­ate three key con­spir­a­tors of the Beant Singh as­sas­si­na­tion in­clud­ing Jag­tar Singh Tara. In­tel­li­gence of­fi­cials say the jail­break was funded by the ISI.

Tara joined Wad­hawa in Pak­istan and to­gether, un­der the ISI’S tute­lage, they or­gan­ised a se­ries of strikes start­ing with the twin cinema bomb­ings in Delhi in 2005. In March 2011, Tara an­nounced the cre­ation of the Khal­is­tan Tiger Force which some in­tel­li­gence of­fi­cials be­lieve is only a ruse to lure younger Sikhs by giv­ing the BKI a newer look.

WAD­HAWA SINGH BAB­BAR 65 Chief of Bab­bar Khalsa In­ter­na­tional. He is known to be based in La­hore for over two decades, su­per­vis­ing ter­ror strikes against In­dia with ISI sup­port.

JAG­TAR SINGH TARA EARLY 40s Once a taxi driver in Delhi, Tara was Wad­hawa’s sec­ond in com­mand in La­hore. He re­cently parted ways to launch the Khal­is­tan Tiger Force.

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