The Terror Watch: Khalistan

Article by Ms Adiiti Dubey

The ‘Khalistan movement’, a reign of terror that cropped up during the British era, has been under record for the series of violence and attacks. The movement has been fired off by anti-Indian mindsets to crave a separate region from the mainland. During the 1980s and 1990s, the attacks made by Khalistani miscreants across the northern part of India claimed many innocent lives.

Terror outfits like ‘Sikh For Justice’ (SFJ),’Babbar Khalsa International’ (BKI) are briskly organizing and sponsoring the so-called ‘Khalistan referendum’, though the referendum movement was originally planned to get organized in 2020, it met with epic failures and lack of support. The recent vandalism of the Indian consulate buildings in the United Kingdom, USA, Australia and Canada did raise many questions regarding Khalistan.


Though, most modern reports blame the ‘1984 incident’ behind the Khalistan movement, history has an obscure point. Referring to the records about the Khalistan movement, ‘Jagjit Singh Chohan’ is known as the one blamed for fuelling this ‘separatist movement’ in Punjab and brainwashing the youths with repeated hate speeches and violent provocation against the Indian state starting from the 1960s. During his existence as a self-styled leader of the so-called Khalistan state, Chohan claims that he has been in contact with Pakistani authoritarian Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and the ISI with a deleterious aim to divide the northern region of Indian Punjab on the basis of religion. During the 1980s, he even declared himself as ‘President’ of Khalistan state with an unsuccessful reign that soon ended with his own mis-achievements. Surprisingly, his fantasy of an independent Khalistan state began with losing the Punjab Assembly election in late 1960, making him unable to cope with the loss he faced in his own constituency.

The ISI with a deleterious aim to divide the northern region of Punjab on the basis of religion


Separatism been a controversial part of history in itself, the year 1984 has always been hiding some violent episodes apart from the riots, which happened after the assassination of Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi at the hands of her Sikh bodyguards. The October of 1984 became rough for India after political riots set on fire by anti-national elements. Though the nation mourned a large number of casualties in riots, the episode of violent attacks and deaths had never been limited to the date of October 31st, 1984. The fuel of separatism had been hunting India’s peace even before the assassination of Indira Gandhi. So-called saint of Khalistan, Jairnail Singh Brar, famously known as “Bhindranwala”, was accused of keeping weapons inside Gurudwara with an aim of attacking the Indian state, then ‘Operation Blue Star’ was ordered to neutralize him.

The operation was commanded by then Major General Kuldeep Brar, surprisingly both had common surnames with a major difference in ideology, on one side Kuldeep Brar was commanding for nullifying the terror movement, the other side, Jairnail Singh Brar was planning to carry out bigger terror attacks against the state and civilians, especially, he kept big hate for “Nirankaris”, another sect of Sikhism, that preaches about peace. A report says that many Nirankaris were officially reported for being killed by radical Khalistanis. The so-called Khalistani force burnt out trains, hijacked aeroplanes and attacked other vehicles listing several deaths.

The Khalistani force burnt trains, hijacked aeroplanes and attacked other vehicles listing several deaths


‘Referendum 2020’ was none other than a scam to collect heavy revenue in a profuse amount as the movement even failed to register the lowest number of voters despite being supported by various foreign elements. The ‘referendum movement’ was mainly organized by ‘Gurpatwant Singh Pannu’, a designated terrorist and leader of a banned outfit named ‘Sikh for Justice’ abbreviated as “SFJ”.

The terrible failure of ‘Referendum 2020’ had many reasons including their motive to attack India’s sovereignty on the behest of ISI and Pakistan triggered the issue of security and safety among the people living in Punjab, the rejection by the Canadian government for recognising the votes in the referendum, the mismanagement and corruption of separatist leaders sitting for foreign funds and India’s diplomatic pressure at the global level.

Even in the countries like the United Kingdom, the USA and the Australia where governments seemed less likely to have any diplomatic pressure from India, the ‘Referendum 2020’ dreadfully failed due to less moral support. Another big reason for a collapsed referendum was Covid, which pushed strict laws against public gatherings that failed the so-called movement again in October 2021, when the phase of voting started. In India, the SFJ cleverly tried to gain voter registration by entering through Russian domain, but the plan gave up the ghost as Indian cyber authorities cracked down the entire network. Also, the SFJ once moved to a court in the USA to get the American authorities involved in the agenda, but the case was boldly dismissed by the American court as it was not under concern for US jurisdiction.

The funding links of miscreants involved in vandalizing Indian assets should be carefully analyzed as they are more likely to be aided by terror outfits like SFJ, KLF and Babbar Khalsa, which had already been accused of terror acts inside India 


The presence of foreign intelligence and their funds to aid Khalistani separatists had always been there ever since the idea of Khalistan emerged. Recalling the time of the British era, the British empire impudently started hiring Sikh soldiers in the British army to curb Indian independence movements that were at the peak of their success.

Britishers sensed that the freedom fighters like Bhagat Singh, Sardar Udham Singh, Sukhdev Thapar, and Lala Lajpat Rai, who predominately hailed from the Punjab region, became a threat to the British’s autocracy in India and hence, to counter the threat from Punjab, Britishers started luring and using badly-off Sikh soldiers in return of wages that could help them out of the poverty. The British agenda of ‘Divide and Rule’ still today seems to affect the mind of Khalistani serparatists as they attacked great freedom fighter “Bhagat Singh”, this time by burning his posters in the United Kingdom to appease the separatist ideology set by Britishers.

The Khalistan movements received millions and billions of funds from the United Kingdom, USA, Canada and Australia to malign India’s image and attack its integrity. Besides all, a country like “Pakistan” which openly mistreats Sikhs in its own land, provided the logistic support, intelligence inputs and supply of arms and ammunition to Khalistani terrorists, little it knows that Pakistan has been forcefully acquiring more than half of Punjab’s land by the means of riots and terror since 1947. 


With ‘Sikh for Justice’ getting banned in India in 2019, there were many other outfits which gone banned and designated as terrorist organizations due to their violent and unlawful offences against the Indian community. The ‘Babbar Khalsa International’, an organization alleged of having headquarter in Lahore, Pakistan, has been banned and designated as a terror outfit by India, Canada, European Union, Japan, Malaysia, the United Kingdom and the United States for bombing ‘Air India Flight 182’ known as ‘Kanishka Tragedy’, claiming many innocent lives in 1985.

The ‘Khalistan Liberation Force (KLF)’, banned by India and Canada was involved in many terror activities including the kidnapping of the charge de affairs of Romania to India, Liviu Radu. The KLF terrorists were also involved in the assassination attempt of Indian Ambassador Julio Francis Ribeiro who was that time charged in Romania. The ‘Khalistan Zindabad Force’, designated as a terror outfit by India and European Union, was alleged for attacking a Gurudwara in Vienna, Austria resulting in the murder of a Sikh preacher, Rama Nand. There are many more Khalistani terror outfits responsible for manslaughter, riots and bombing, however the majority of them are still enjoying foreign funds while living a luxury life after taking innocent lives. 


The increase of vandalism of Indian assets including Embassies and Consulate Generals in 2023, has triggered the need for proper action against the miscreants. As per the sources, the Indian authorities are already looking to cancel the Indian Passports of the attackers.

Though it may not solve the problem with foreign passport holders who were involved in the recent attacks, and thus to respond better to the situation, the Indian authorities can diplomatically ask the authorities of the country, where the vandalism happened, to either persecute the criminals or hand-over them to persecute under Indian jurisdiction for their involvement with designated terrorist organizations in the same way India is pressurizing Pakistan to hand-over terrorists Masood Azhar and Hafiz Saeed as the attack on India’s sovereignty is always a subject of national security.

The funding links of miscreants involved in vandalizing Indian assets should be carefully analyzed as they are more likely to be aided by terror outfits like SFJ, KLF and Babbar Khalsa, which had already been accused of terror acts inside India. [End]


  • Aditi Dubey

    A graduate in Economics from Delhi University. A master in defence and strategic studies from NALSAR University of Law, Hyderabad. She worked with Janes Defence as a research analyst in the defence data development domain. An ethical hacker, she takes interest in issues related to military tactics, international laws, arms acts and tribunals.

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