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Babbar Khalsa International


Babbar Khalsa International

Babbar Khalsa International
Participant in Punjab Insurgency
Active 1978–present
Ideology Khalistan
Sikh nationalism
Leaders Talwinder Singh Babbar
Headquarters Patiala
Opponents India
Battles/wars Operation Blue Star
Operation Woodrose
Khalistan movement

Babbar Khalsa (BKI) (Punjabi: ਬੱਬਰ ਖ਼ਾਲਸਾ, [bəbːəɾ xɑlsɑ]), also known as Babbar Khalsa International (BKI), is a Khalistani militant armed organization based in India. The Indian government considers Babbar Khalsa a terrorist group, while Babbar Khalsa's supporters consider the Babbar Khalsa as a resistance movement,[1][2] and it played a prominent role in the Punjab insurgency. Babbar Khalsa International was created in 1978, after a number of Sikhs were killed in clashes with the Nirankari sect.[3] It was active throughout 1980s in the Punjab insurgency but its influence declined in the 1990s after several senior members were killed in encounter killings with police.[3] Babbar Khalsa International has since been declared to be a terrorist organization in many countries, including India, Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom.[4][5][6][7] On March 13, 2011, Jagtar Singh Tara split from the Babbar Khalsa to form the Khalistan Tiger Force for undisclosed reasons.[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 of 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 organizational 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. Contrary to popular belief the Akhand Kirtan Jatha had no original ties to Babbar Khalsa but later took majority control of the group after Parmar was incarcerated in Düsseldorf, Germany, 1983.

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]


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.[12] Babbar Khalsa kept up a low level of activity until 1983.[11] Its membership was drawn from ex-servicemen, police officers, and Sikh religious organizations.[11] After Operation Blue Star the organization fell into disarray but was able to regroup and remained active.[11]

During its highest period of activity Babbar Khalsa International had 27 subgroups operating under its direction.[13] It specialized in the use of bombs,[13] particularly RDX.

Air India Flight 182

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 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"[14] Only Inderjit Singh Reyat who admitted to building the bomb, was convicted in the Air India bombing.[15] 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.[16]


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,[17] Canada's CBC network also reported that Parmar had been in police custody for some time prior to his death.[18]

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, with Pratik Shah as deputy Jathedar. 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.[19]

See also


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