Efforts are being made to revive the Khalistani separatist movement for many years now. Apart from the spate of killings of Hindu and moderate Sikh leaders in Punjab, and the obvious radicalization among the overseas Sikh diaspora, what has gone relatively unnoticed is the increased activity of Khalistani terror groups in other parts of Bharat, particularly in Terai region of Uttarakhand and UP.
As this twitter user wrote, “Lakhimpur Kheri is almost Punjab in Terai of UP. During heady days of Khalistani dreams in air, there were many arrests here. Quiet a few terrorists would come to hide here from Punjab. Recently too there have been few arrests ..2years back I think…Land belonged to Raja Bikram shah and he donated to migrant Sikh families during 1947/48 when they were brought here by state post partition.”
Yesterday’s brutal violence in Lakhimpur Kheri district was not a random occurrence. The cold-blooded slaughter of the Hindu activists of the ruling party suggests a deep-rooted hatred, the kind of religious hatred that the Khalistani movement has bred in its followers and sympathisers.
An India Today article from May, 1990 when Khalistani terror was at its peak, titled “Terrai is terrorism’s new threat – Punjab terrorists establish a new base” shows that this is not a recent phenomenon. Note: Uttarakhand was formed in 2000, so some of the geographical references in this article are outdated:
The Terai region in the idyllic foothills of the Himalayas in northern Uttar Pradesh is fertile terrain – agriculture is the mainstay of the economy. The area – covering five districts – is known locally as ‘mini-Punjab’ because Sikhs own 60 per cent of the agricultural land in the region and form about 15 per cent of the population (30 to 40 per cent in Terai towns like Bajpur, Kashipur, Khatima and Pallia).
But that is precisely why the Terai today has become equally fertile ground for terrorists from Punjab. The undulating landscape stretching into the thick forests of the Himalayan ranges and the jhalas (farm houses), situated a kilometre or two from each other across the terrain, provide perfect cover. Moroever, either because of threats or sympathy, local Sikh farmers have been providing terrorists with safe hideouts.
…. half a dozen AK 47 attacks between December 1989 and April 1990 in the Pilibhit area, seems to support that fear and throw up enough evidence that the terrorists have managed to build a base in the region….. Investigations by Central and state agencies have established that terrorists like Nirmal Singh alias Nimma, Sukhdeo Singh alias Sukha (both arrested in connection with General Vaidya’s murder) and Harjinder Singh Jinda have operated and found refuge at some stage or the other in the Terai region.
The article lists a number of deadly terror attacks by the terrorists: bomb blasts in cinema halls in Haldwani and Kashipur, bank lootings, firing at police pickets, and murders of some local Sikhs branded as police informers.
Fast forward to September, 2017. In joint operations spread over a week, Punjab Police and UP ATS arrested six suspects who had non-bailable warrants issued against them for their role in high-security Nabha jailbreak in Patiala (Punjab) in November 2016. Police said those arrested also have links with outlawed terrorist group Babbar Khalsa International (BKI).
On September 19, Harpreet Singh alias Jitendra Singh Tony was arrested from Mailani area, while Satnam Singh was arrested from Sikanderpur area of Lakhimpur Kheri district.
Baba Babwant Singh, a resident of Naushehra Pannuan in Punjab’s Tarn Taran District, was held on September 16 from UP’s capital Lucknow, while Jaswant Singh alias Kala, a resident of Sonewala village in Punjab’s Muktsar Sahib district and a close aide of former BKI chief Jagtar Singh Hawara, was arrested from Unnao district the same day. Harjinder Singh Khalon, a Sikh leader from Pilibhit, and his aide Amandeep, who is from Udham Singh Nagar, were arrested from Lucknow based on inputs provided by Baba Balwant Singh.
Soon after the Nabha jailbreak, west UP had come under the radar of Punjab Police and was dubbed as a safe haven for suspects linked to the banned outfit. Hours after the jailbreak, main conspirator Parvinder Singh was arrested from Shamli in Uttar Pradesh. At least 10 armed men had broken into the premises of the high-security Nabha jail in Punjab and freed six men, including Khalistan Liberation Force (KLF) chief Harminder Mintoo, on November 27, 2016.
Sources at the time said police are close to busting a network of Sikh terrorists in the region, including from Shamli, Muzaffarnagar, Pilibhit, Shahjahanpur and Lakhimpur Kheri.
Mintoo was backed and trained by Pakistan and his KLF was a break-away faction of BKI. He had established his base in Thailand while travelling extensively to other parts of South East Asia, Europe etc. for fund raising and recruitment. His KLF had hired contract killers who assassinated around half a dozen Hindu leaders – Ravinder Gosain, Brig.(retd) Jagdish Gagneja, Durga Prasad Gupta, Amit Sharma etc. and attempted to kill others in the 2016-17 period.
In August 2017, 3 terrorists of an ISI-Khalistan Liberation Force module were arrested from Gwalior, MP.
In July 2018, intelligence agencies alerted that two Khalistani terrorists are headed towards Delhi in an explosive-laden car with an Uttar Pradesh registration number to attack Parliament House.
The alert said that two terrorists — Lakhwinder Singh and Parminder Singh — (believed to be close associates of Mintoo) were travelling from the Nepal border in a white Innova. A tip off was received from Udham Singh Nagar, Uttarakhand regarding this.
In December 2018, a BKI terrorist was arrested from Pune.
In February 2021, Khalistani terrorist Jagdev Singh Jagga was arrested from the Jankipuram area in Lucknow. He had been earlier arrested in 2019 and 2020, yet managed to escape and evade arrest! Jagga is a close associate of UK-based Paramjeet Singh Pamma and Maltani Singh.
That same month, Khalistani sympathiser Sarabjeet Keerat was arrested from Maharashtra’s Nanded (a major Sikh pilgrim spot as the last Sikh Guru Gobind Singh passed away here). In August, an arms consignment consisting of 11 hand grenades, a tiffin bomb and 2-kg RDX that was smuggled from Pakistan using drones was seized in Punjab.
Last month, Punjab Police busted a secessionist module of pro-Khalistan group Sikhs for Justice (SFJ) with the arrest of its three members. Over 2.84 lakh pamphlets promoting secessionist ‘Sikh Referendum 2020’ activities, printer, spray pump and spray bottles for writing secessionist graffiti on walls, one laptop, three mobile phones and one car were seized. Accused had been radicalised over social media and YouTube channels and had received huge funds from SFJ’s US-based founder Gurpatwant Singh Pannun.
“Farmer” leaders are desperately trying to pin the blame for the Lakhimpur Kheri violence on Union Minister of State for Home Affairs Ajay Mishra Teni and his son. The disturbing violence demonstrated by pro-Khalistan elements during the ‘tractor rally’ in Delhi on 26th January and the way Red Fort was stormed and the national flag desecrated, shows exactly what this ‘protest’ is capable of. Anti-Hindu and anti-Brahmin bigotry, and death chants for the PM and HM have been a recurring theme.
The multiple attacks on BJP leaders in Punjab – Punjab MLA Arun Narang thrashed and stripped, assault and hostage taking of BJP leaders in Patiala – and Haryana – stone pelting on the Deputy Speaker, chasing a BJP leader into the street in Kurukshetra – all that was a precursor to the deadly brutality we saw yesterday. This was just waiting to happen.
Speaking to news agency ANI, Ajay Mishra was spot on when he said, “Several terrorist organisations like Babbar Khalsa were making attempts to disrupt the law and order since the beginning of the farmers’ protests.”
Speaking about yesterday’s incident, he added, “The way they attacked our workers with sticks and swords, even if my son was there he would not have stayed alive. They damaged cars and torched several vehicles. Our workers did not have any fault. They were going to receive the chief guest (for a political program where UP deputy CM was coming). When our workers were going they started pelting stones on the vehicles. Our workers were beaten by dragging them out from the vehicles. They torched the cars.”
As per reports, stones were pelted on the vehicles of BJP workers by protesting ‘farmers’ after which a vehicle overturned as the driver was hit by a stone. Two people came under the car and they died. Subsequently, the mob lynched the BJP workers.
The driver is reported to be Hari Om Mishra, who is also said to be associated with the BJP Yuva Morcha. The other two who were murdered are BJP’s zonal chief Shyam Sundar and booth president Shubham Mishra. A local reporter of Sadhna channel (a Hindu religiou channel), Raman Kashyap, was also attacked, and succumbed to his injuries on Monday.
Chilling footage of the driver begging for his life, but still beaten to death by goons who are coercing him to admit “You were sent to run over the farmers” has also emerged. Three other BJP functionaries were grievously injured: Lav Kush, Ashish and Shekhar.
So far, the Lakhimpur district administration has confirmed the names of only four ‘farmers’ who died in the incident — Gurvinder Singh, Daljit Singh, Nakshatra Singh, Lavprit Singh.
The abhorrent mainstream media bias, which has been visible all along in the coverage of these protests and which so routinely dehumanizes BJP workers, rose to the fore again. This is how The Hindu, supposedly the paper of choice for ‘intellectuals’, framed its headline on this incident:
This is how ‘journalists’ Vijaita Singh and Omar Rashid have downplayed the brutal lynching of the BJP workers and driver:
…angry farmers set on fire and vandalised vehicles of the BJP leader leading to the death of four persons.
And the irony is that the cover photo used for this article shows a Sikh youth wearing a T-shirt with the photo of Khalistani terrorist Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale.
The Hindu article does not even name the BJP workers and the journalist who were lynched. For such liberals, Hindu lives have little value. And lives of Hindus associated with BJP have zero value.