Babbar Khalsa

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Babbar Khalsa International (BKI, Punjabi: ਬੱਬਰ ਖ਼ਾਲਸਾ, [bəbːəɾ xɑlsɑ]), also known as Babbar Khalsa, is a Khalistani militant organisation based in India. The Indian and the British governments considers Babbar Khalsa a terrorist group, while its supporters consider it to be a resistance movement,[2][3] and it played a prominent role in the Punjab insurgency. BKI was created in 1978, after several Sikhs were killed in clashes with the Nirankari sect.[4] It was active throughout the 1980s in the Punjab insurgency but its influence declined in the 1990s after several senior members were killed in "encounters" with police.[4] The BKI have been designated as a terrorist organisation in many countries, including Canada, Germany, India, and the United Kingdom.[5][6][7][8]


The name Babbar Khalsa is taken from the Babbar Akali Movement of 1920, which agitated against British colonial rule in India. The modern-day Babbar Khalsa was created as a result of the bloody clash on April 13, 1978, between a group of Amritdhari Sikhs of Akhand Kirtani Jatha who went to protest against a gathering of the rival Nirankari sect. The confrontation led to the murder of thirteen demonstrators. When a criminal case was filed against the Nirankari leader, he had his case transferred to neighboring Haryana state, where he was acquitted the following year.[9] This gave rise to new organisational expressions of Sikh aspirations outside the Akali party, and an angry sentiment that if the government and judiciary would not prosecute enemies of Sikhism, taking extrajudical measures could be justified to avenge the death of Sikhs.[10] Among the chief proponents of this attitude was the Babbar Khalsa founded by Talwinder Singh Parmar.

When Gurbachan Singh, the Nirankari Baba responsible for what Sikhs perceived to be the innocent deaths of the aforementioned thirteen, was shot dead on April 24, 1980, it was Ranjit Singh who surrendered and admitted to the assassination. The Babbar Khalsa was considered the most dangerous, well-armed, and puritanical of the various Sikh militant organisations fighting Indian rule in Punjab. Whereas other militant organisations made some compromise with the tenets of Sikhism during the militancy period, Babbar Khalsa stood alone in its insistence on the strict compliance of the rules of the Khalsa brotherhood. According to C. Christine Fair, Babbar Khalsa was more concerned with propagating the ideas of Sikhism, than with the actual Khalistan movement.[11]



On November 19, 1981, Police Inspector Pritam Singh Bajwa and Constable Surat Singh of Jalandhar were gunned down. On the morning of November 19, 1981 in Daheru village nearby Khanna in Ludhiana district the two policemen were killed, while all militants hiding in a house managed to escape. Named in the FIR were Wadhawa Singh (present chief of Babbar Khalsa now based in Pakistan), Talwinder Singh Parmar, Amarjit Singh Nihang, Amarjit Singh (Head Constable), Sewa Singh (Head Constable) and Gurnam Singh (Head Constable). This act gained Babbar Khalsa and its chief Talwinder Singh Parmar notoriety.[12]

In 1985, Parmar and Inderjit Singh Reyat were arrested by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) on explosive charges, linking the two to the Air India Flight 182 and 1985 Narita International Airport bombing for the very first time. Parmar was acquitted of all charges, where Reyat was charged for possession of an un-licensed fire arm. Reyat was fined $2000 and put on probation.

The Commission of Inquiry into the Investigation of the Bombing of Air India Flight 182 concluded that Talwinder Singh Parmar "is now believed that he was the leader of the conspiracy to bomb Air India flights"[13] Only Inderjit Singh Reyat who admitted to building the bomb, was convicted in the Air India bombing.[14] Parmar was killed in India in 1992 and was never charged or stood trial for any allegations against him for any role in the Air India bombing.

Five Babbar Khalsa members from Montreal were arrested May 30, 1986 in another plot to bomb up Air India flights out of New York City. Newspaper editor Tara Singh Hayer was targeted with a bomb at his office in January 1986. Just weeks later, Sikhs from the Hamilton temple along with Air India bombing suspects Talwinder Singh Parmar and Ajaib Singh Bagri were arrested after being wiretapped discussing blowing up the Parliament and kidnapping children of MPs in India. Visiting Punjabi Cabinet Minister Malkiat Singh Sidhu was ambushed in Canada, surviving being shot in March 1986 by four gunmen.[15]


On January 8, 1990, Khalistan Liberation Force in co-operation with Babbar Khalsa, killed DSP Gobind Ram in a bomb blast. It was said that the reason for Gobind Ram's killing was for his blasphemous acts against Sikhs and for the rape and torture of Sikh women in jails.[citation needed]

On September 7, 1991, eight Babbar Khalsa militants had an encounter with CRPF soldiers near the village of Moujiya. On the militants side three were killed: Khem Singh Babbar, Paramjeet Singh Babbar and Gurmail Singh Babbar. The encounter lasted 24 hours.[citation needed]

On 31 August 1995, Dilawar Singh Babbar assassinated Punjab Chief Minister Beant Singh in a suicide bomb attack at the civil secretariat in Chandigarh.[16] Dilawar claimed allegiance to the Babbar Khalsa and four other members of the Babbar Khalsa were named responsible for the killing of Beant Singh, Chief Minister of Punjab and accused of notoriety and leading fake encounters. The organisation claimed that Beant Singh was a traitor to the Sikh community.


Four Babbar Khalsa International UK members were arrested and later bailed in July 2010 in connection with the murder of a Sikh leader in Punjab, India.[17] Babbar Khalsa kept up a low level of activity until 1983.[11] Its membership was drawn from ex-servicemen, police officers, and Sikh religious organisations.[11] After Operation Blue Star the organisation fell into disarray but was able to regroup and remained active.[11]


The crackdown on Sikh militant organisations by the Indian Government in the early 1990s, followed by government infiltration of the Khalistan movement and the various militant organisations respectively, greatly weakened the Babbar Khalsa, ultimately leading to the death of Sukhdev Singh Babbar (9 August 1992) and Talwinder Singh Parmar (15 October 1992). Parmar's death remained controversial, and today he is accepted to have been shot dead by Indian police during custody; the Tehelka investigation found that Indian security forces had killed him after interrogation and were ordered to destroy his confession statements,[18] Canada's CBC network also reported that Parmar had been in police custody for some time prior to his death.[19]

Despite setbacks incurred in the early Nineties, Babbar Khalsa is still active under ground, although not to the extent it once was. Current leadership resides with Wadhawa Singh Babbar. Babbar Khalsa is suspected by the Punjab police authorities to be responsible for a bombing at the Shingar Cinema Complex in Ludhiana on October 2007, in which 7 people were killed and 32 wounded.[20]

See also


  1. ^ Sikh Unrest Spreads To Canada Chicago Tribune, 24 June 1986
  2. ^ Fighting for faith and nation ... - Google Books. ISBN 978-0-8122-1592-2. Retrieved 2009-08-09. 
  3. ^ India today - Google Books. 2009-04-24. Retrieved 2009-08-09. 
  4. ^ a b Wright-Neville, David (2010). Dictionary of Terrorism. Polity. pp. 46–. ISBN 978-0-7456-4302-1. Retrieved 19 June 2010. 
  5. ^ Schedule 2, Terrorism Act 2000, Act No. 11 of 2000
  6. ^ "EU list of terrorist groups" (PDF). Retrieved 2009-08-09. 
  7. ^ "Currently listed entities". Public Safety Canada. Retrieved 20 September 2013. 
  8. ^ "Canadian listing of terrorist groups". 2009-06-05. Archived from the original on 2006-11-19. Retrieved 2009-08-09. 
  9. ^ Cynthia Keppley Mahmood, Fighting for Faith and Nation: Dialogues with Sikh Militants, Philadelphia, University of Pennsylvania Press, 1996, pp. 58–60; Gopal Singh, A History of the Sikh People, New Delhi, World Book Center, 1988, p. 739.
  10. ^ Singh (1999), pp. 365–66.
  11. ^ a b c d Fair, C. Christine; Ganguly, Šumit (September 2008). Treading on hallowed ground: counterinsurgency operations in sacred spaces. Oxford University Press US. pp. 41–. ISBN 978-0-19-534204-8. Retrieved 19 June 2010. 
  12. ^ "Efforts on to extradite Kalasinghian"[permanent dead link] 20 May 2001
  13. ^ DOSSIER 2 TERRORISM, INTELLIGENCE AND LAW ENFORCEMENT – CANADA’S RESPONSE TO SIKH TERRORISM February 19, 2007 Archived July 16, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.
  14. ^ Ottawa, The (2008-02-09). "Air India bomb maker sent to holding center". Archived from the original on 2012-11-09. Retrieved 2009-08-09. 
  15. ^ "Using the Events of Air India to Explain Canada’s Anti-terrorism Legislation" Michael Zekulin Department of Political Science University of Calgary Paper, presented at 2010 Annual Meeting of the Prairie Political Science Association University of Manitoba, October 1–2, 2010[permanent dead link]
  16. ^ The Telegraph, Calcutta, India, "Beant trial trio in tunnel getaway" 22 January 2004
  17. ^ Taylor, Jerome (14 July 2010). "Four Britons bailed over murder of politician in Punjab". The Independent. Retrieved 5 February 2017. 
  18. ^ "Free. Fair. Fearless". Tehelka. Archived from the original on 2012-09-12. Retrieved 2009-08-09. 
  19. ^ "CBC News In Depth: Air India - Bombing of Air India Flight 182". Retrieved 2009-08-09. 
  20. ^ "Terror back in Punjab: Babbar Khalsa suspect". CNN-IBN. 2007-10-15. Retrieved 2011-05-17.