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[Sikh Terrorists] Babbar Khalsa
International Sikh Youth Federation
Dal Khalsa
Bhinderanwala Tiger Force
Saheed Khalsa Force
Khalistan Liberation Tiger Force
Khalistan Commando Force
Khalistan Liberation Front
Khalistan National Army

The Indian army's 1984 storming of the Golden Temple, the Sikh religion's holiest shrine, outraged Sikhs worldwide. Sikh religious extremists bombed and downed an Air India Boeing 747 off the coast of Ireland in 1985, killing 329 people in the deadliest aviation sabotage in history. The attack was thought to be the work of Sikh extremists based in Vancouver, in revenge for the Golden Temple incident.

The Arya Samaj, a Hindureformist organization, attempted to subsume Sikhism in Hinduism in the 1870s. The Sikhs responded by forming the Singh Sabha to emphasize Sikhs’ separate identity. Khalistan, the Sikh homeland in Punjab Provice, declared its independence on October 7, 1987. Over 60 percent of India's grain comes from Punjab, and there were a half-million Indian soldiers occupying the province of Punjab.


In 1984, the All India Sikh Students’ Federation (AISSF) in the United Kingdom started the International Sikh Youth Federation [ISYF] as an international branch. It was started by Pargat Singh under the patronage of Jasbir Singh Rode. Rode had arrived in the United Kingdom in August 1984 but, by December 1984, was expelled for publicly advocating violent methods for their separatism campaign. Rode returned to India, where he was imprisoned without trial until 1988. Upon his release, he moderated, now advocating pursuing constitutional changes within India. This created a riff in the UK branches roughly along north/south lines: the northern branches followed Rode’s moderate stance while the southern branches instead followed Dr. Sohan Singh. Since then, ISYF members have engaged in terrorist attacks, assassinations, and bombings against both Indian figures and moderate Sikhs opposing them. The organizations has also collaborated and associated with other Sikh terrorist organizations, including Babbar Khalsa, the Khalistan Liberation Force, and Khalistan Commando Force.

Sikh terrorism is sponsored by expatriate and Indian Sikh groups who want to carve out an independent Sikh state called Khalistan (Land of the Pure) from Indian terroritory. Active groups include Babbar Khalsa, International Sikh Youth Federation, Dal Khalsa, Bhinderanwala Tiger Force. A previously unknown group, the Saheed Khalsa Force, claimed credit for the marketplace bombings in New Delhi in 1997. Previously active groups included the Azad Khalistan Babbar Khalsa Force, Khalistan Liberation Front, and Khalistan Commando Force. Many of these groups operate under umbrella organizations, the most significant of which is the Second Panthic Committee. Sikh terrorists primarily attack Indian officials and facilities, other Sikhs, and Hindus using bombing, assassination, and kidnapping. Their area of operations includes Northern India and Southeast Asia. International organizations, such as the World Sikh Organization, lobby for their cause. The religious nature of the conflict in Punjab can be gauged from the targeted killing of Hindus, though the militants soon started targeting those Sikhs who did not share their hardline views and who advised moderation. Militants belonging to the Khalistan Commando Force, Babbar Khalsa, and other militant groups that were fighting for prevention of the dilution of the Sikh faith, believed that the religion could only be saved by Sikhs attaining a state of their own. Activities

Sikh attacks in India are mounted against Indian officials and facilities, other Sikhs, and Hindus; they include assassinations, bombings, and kidnappings. These attacks have dropped markedly since 1992, as Indian security forces have killed or captured a host of senior Sikh militant leaders and scored other successes against extremist groups. Total civilian deaths in Punjab have declined more than 95 percent since more than 3,300 civilians died in 1991. The drop results largely from Indian Army, paramilitary, and police successes against extremist groups.

Many low-intensity bombings that might be attributable to Sikh extremists now occur without claims of credit.



Location/Area of Operation

Northern India, Western Europe, Southeast Asia, and North America.

External Aid

Silk militant cells are active internationally, and extremists gather funds from overseas Sikh communities. Sikh expatriates have formed a variety of international organizations that lobby for the Sikh cause overseas. Most prominent are the World Sikh Organization and the International Sikh Youth Federation.

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Page last modified: 05-08-2012 15:16:25 ZULU