L)Legal status of the All India Sikh Student Federation (AISSF);2)Current arrests/detentions being carried out against AISSF members;3)Possible penalties for belonging to a banned organization in India [IND2445]

l) The All India Sikh Student Federation (AISSF) was formed in 1943 [The Minority Rights Group, "The Sikhs", (London, 1984), p. 14.] as the youth group of the Akali Dal, a predominantly Sikh political party in the Punjab. The Shiromani Akali Dal was first founded in 1920, and "stands for autonomy for all states in India." [Alan Day and H. Degenhardt, ed., Political Parties of the World, a Keesing's Reference Publication, 2nd edition, (Detroit: Gale Research Company, 1984), p. 224.] In March 1984, the government banned the AISSF, [Henry Degenhardt, ed., Revolutionary and Dissident Movements, (Detroit: Gale Research Company, 1988), p. 156. Attached copy.] and jailed many of its members. [Keesing's Record of World Events, Volume XXX, November 1984, p. 33222.] The ban was lifted 11 April 1985. [Keesing's Record of World Events, Volume XXXI, November 1985, p. 33986.] Members of the AISSF were involved in the fighting between the Indian army and Sikh militants at the Golden Temple in June 1984, and in a confrontation with police and paramilitary forces at the temple in April 1986.

In April 1986, the AISSF split into two groups, one maintaining links with the United Akali Dal (a militant faction of the Akali Dal), and the second allying itself with the Damdami Taksal (a militant Sikh religious school). [Keesing's Volume XXXIII, (August 1986) p. 34563. ] Some members of the AISSF have advocated the creation of a separate Sikh state, "Khalistan". At least 16 militant Sikh groups have emerged, [Keesing's Record of World Events, Volume XXXIV, February 1988, p. 35718.] including the Khalistan Commando Force (KCF) and the Khalistan Liberation Force (KLF). [Amnesty International, Report 1987.] The KLF is an umbrella group which is linked politically to the Manjit Singh faction of the AISSF, [Dilip Bobb, "The Spectre of Terrorism," India Today, 31 July 1987.] and at least one source indicates that it is an armed wing of the AISSF. [Keesing's Record of World Events, Volume XXXIV, February 1988, p. 35719.] The Khalistan Commando Force has emerged as the main militant group in the Punjab, according to an article in India Today, and is "closely linked to the Gurjit faction of the AISSF and the Damdami Taksal." ["The Spectre of Terrorism," India Today, (New Delhi, 31 July 1987).] At the end of July 1989, Manjit Singh, the president of the AISSF was released after spending five years in Sangrur jail in Punjab. ["Released: Manjit Singh", Asiaweek, 11 August 1989, p. 48.] He is allegedly still a supporter of militants trying to establish Khalistan. [Ibid.]

No further corroborating information is currently available to the IRBDC.

2) Specific information relating to the freedom of AISSF members to meet without problems from the authorities is presently unavailable to the IRBDC. Until March 1989, the National Security Act allowed police in the Punjab to detain people without charge or trial for a period of two years. When the Indian army attacked the Golden Temple in June 1984, they detained up to 1500 people, and at the end of 1987, 366 Sikhs were still held without charge in Jodhpur Jail. [Amnesty International, Amnesty International Report 1987, (London: Amnesty International Publications, 1987), p. 230.] Court proceedings were initiated in August 1986, and all the detainees were charged with being members of either the All India Sikh Students Federation or the (outlawed) Dal Khalsa. [Ibid.] Sixty of the 366 detainees had allegedly been tortured while held in Ladha Kothi jail prior to transfer to Jodhpur in 1984. [Ibid.] (On 6 March 1989, the Indian government released the last 188 of the 366 Sikhs jailed in 1984, but rearrested 84 immediately, allegedly for things they had done prior to the Golden Temple incident.) ["If it were 1986," The Economist, 11 March 1989, p. 38.]

In March 1986, a new Director General of Police of the Punjab "announced new police and paramilitary operations aimed at the elimination or arrest of leaders and members of armed Sikh groups." [Report 1987, p. 230.] Amnesty International received reports that many Sikh activists were killed in fake encounters staged by the police or paramilitary forces. [Report 1987, p. 231.] Allegedly, the new police chief had prepared a "hit list" of Sikh "terrorist leaders". [Michael Hamlyn, "First peace signs in Punjab begin with police reform", Times of London, 18 April 1986.] Extrajudicial killings of Sikh militants by Border Security Forces have also been alleged. [Amnesty International, Report 1987, p. 231.]

On 11 May 1987, the central government imposed President's (Direct) Rule in the Punjab, dismissing the state government and appointing Siddharta Shankar Ray as state governor. [Shankar was appointed governor 1 April 1987.] (President's Rule had previously been in effect in the Punjab from October 1983 to September 1985.) [Keesing's, July 1987, p. 335247.] The government brought in approximately 70,000 paramilitary personnel for the massive security operation, and by 13 May, the government had arrested at least 450 suspected Sikh militants. ["Indian Government holds hundreds of suspects in Punjab crackdown", Globe and Mail, 15 May 1987, p. A10.] According to official figures, in 1987 there were 1246 deaths linked to the Sikh secessionist movement in the Punjab, including the death of 97 policemen. [Keesing's Record of World Events, Volume XXXIV, February 1988, p. 35718.] One report in March 1989 stated that an average of 11 people are "being gunned down" every day in the Punjab. ["Punjab: Encouraging Signals", India Today, 31 March 1989, p. 29.]

In March 1989, Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi made a number of changes to limit police and Army powers in the Punjab, including restricting the use of the Punjab Disturbed Areas Act, and withdrawing the special amendment to the National Security Act which permitted detention of prisoners in the Punjab for up to two years without review. ["Punjab: Encouraging Signals", India Today, 31 March 1989, pp. 28-9.] President's Rule is, however, still in effect, and by June 1989, it was estimated that more than 3147 people had died caught between the violence of terrorist groups and government enforcement agencies since it had been imposed two years before. ["Red Badges of Courage", India Today, 30 June 1989, p. 62.]

No further corroborating information on this topic is currently available to the IRBDC.

3) For information on the various laws used to control the activities of political associations in India, please see the attached documentation, which includes an Amnesty International publication entitled India: A Review of Human Rights Violations, and two publications which appear to have been written by members of the Sikh community, State Terrorism in the Punjab and Seige of the Sikhs.

No further corroborating information on this topic is currently available to the IRBDC.