In a big blow to Khalistan movement, US President Donald Trump’s administration has declared Babbar Khalsa, the Sikh terror group as a threat to American interests. The decision of the US authorities comes as Babbar Khalsa in the past had direct involvement in bombings and assassinations against major social, economic and political targets.
The National Strategy for Counterterrorism unveiled by the Trump administration in Washington on Thursday said that Babbar Khalsa International “is responsible for significant terrorist attacks in India and elsewhere that have claimed the lives of innocent civilians”.
Babbar Khalsa intends to create an independent Sikh state in India through violent means and is responsible for several terror attacks in the country resulting in many civilian deaths. Apart from naming Babbar Khalsa, the document also lists Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan and Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) among organisations that are a potential threat to the US.
According to reports, the Indian government was putting pressure on US authorities regarding the issue of separatist Sikhs. India had raised the issue with the Trump administration regarding Sikh militants using the United States as a platform to gain global. The US decision comes as Babbar Khalsa has been banned in several countries including the US, Canada and India as a national security threat despite having less support base in these countries.
The White House in its strategy paper said there is a broad range of revolutionary, nationalist, and separatist movements across the world whose use of violence and intent to destabilise societies will put American lives at risk.
“Such groups may avoid or deprioritise targeting United States interests, for now, to avoid detracting from their core goals but frequently conduct assassinations and bombings against major economic, political, and social targets, heightening the risk to the United States personnel and interests overseas,” the paper said.
Babbar Khalsa International was founded by a Canadian citizen Talwinder Singh Parmar in 1978 and was then based in Vancouver. It operates in Canada, Germany, the United Kingdon and some parts of India. Its headquarters is set up in Lahore and works on the behest Pakistan’s intelligence ISI. It is officially banned and designated as an international terrorist organisation by the US, Canada, UK, EU, Japan and India. It has been linked to the bombing of Air India Flight 182 in 1981 that killed 329 people on the Emperor Kanishka, a Boeing 747 airliner.