Khalistan stays alive abroad

Semi Column

The attack in London on Lt Gen K S Brar (retd), who led Operation Bluestar to flush out militants from the Golden Temple in Amritsar, reinforces what the authorities here have long been concerned about. That militants and their sympathisers continue to be active abroad, that over 300 of them include those still wanted in India, and that India's extradition attempts have largely failed.

Barring the Ludhiana cinema hall blast in 2007 in which six were killed, and stray arrests of former extremists trying to revive the Khalistan movement, Punjab has been free of militancy since the late '90s. Radical leaders with sympathy for the Khalistani cause have also lost in polls.

However, it's an open secret that the movement continues to draw support, as well as funds and arms, abroad. Recently the Punjab Police arrested Kulbir Singh Barapind, among the few whose extradition India has secured. Sent from the US a few years ago, he was acquitted in all the three cases against him. But he has now been held along with Daljit Singh Bittu for allegedly trying to revive the Khalistan Zindabad Force.

The arrests were big news in the media catering to Indians in the US, Canada, UK, Germany and Belgium, where many former Khalistani militants are settled. Brussels itself had been the site of the May 2009 killing of Dera Sach Khand leader Sant Parmanand by alleged extremists.

Recently, arms and ammunition, including RDX, believed to have been sourced from abroad, were recovered in Punjab.

What must give the state comfort is that top positions in the Punjab Police are currently held by those who had been in the forefront of the battle against militancy during the state's dark decade. The Badal government owes it to them to not lend its support to a memorial dedicated to those who died in Operation Bluestar that is being built inside the Golden Temple among those opposed to it is Lt Gen Brar.

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