Update to IND29756.E of 8 July 1998 on the pressure exerted by terrorists/militants in Punjab on local residents to provide food, money, or transportation; the terrorist/militant groups, if any, active in Punjab, and their stated aims [IND40176.E]

The Executive Director of the Institute for Conflict Management in New Delhi provided the following information in correspondence dated 8 October 2002:

Terrorism in Punjab had been comprehensively defeated by [the] end [of] 1993, though occasional acts of terror are still executed from time to time, primarily by surviving elements of groups based in Pakistan. Nevertheless, none of these groups retains the capabilities of any wider campaign of intimidation in the State; there are no terrorist gangs that move around Punjab today, and there are no reports of any kind of pressures being placed on local populations to provide food, money, transportation or any other kind of support to the terrorists at present. The occasional terrorist activities that still occur in the State have, by and large, been restricted to concealed bombs left behind in soft targets - predominantly public transport. ... Our current Assessment (Year 2002) of the situation in Punjab commences as follows, and is quite accurate:
"The Indian State of Punjab remains largely free from terrorist violence for the ninth consecutive year after the terrorist-secessionist movement for Khalistan was comprehensively defeated in 1993. However, there remain a handful of terrorist groups, mainly sponsored by Pakistan and by some non-resident Indian Sikh groups based in the West, who continue to propagate the ideology of Khalistan."
The surviving groups that remain occasionally active are all headquartered in Pakistan and most prominently include the Khalistan Commando Force- Panjwar (KCF-P), Babbar Khalsa International (BKI), Khalistan Zindabad Force (KZF) and International Sikh Youth Federation (ISYF), and each maintains a close nexus with Pakistan's external intelligence agency, the Inter Service Intelligence (ISI). Most activities of these groups are now concentrated on propaganda, and are primarily directed at, and often located in, Western countries, where they run subsidiary offices and front organisations.

For further information on the situation in Punjab regarding militant activities please refer to the attached document, "Punjab Assessment - Year 2002," as mentioned in the above quote.

A professor of theology at the University of Birmingham who has published on issues of ethnic conflict in Punjab provided the following information in correspondence dated 7 October 2002:

The only reports of militants operating in Punjab in recent years have been of isolated arrests by security forces of Babbar Khalsa members ... and of members of the Khalistan Commando Force. As far as I am aware there is no general insurgency in Punjab; in fact the militant movement was all but crushed by early 1993. The nuclear stand-off between India and Pakistan has effectively sealed the Indo-Pak border. After 1997 the election of a moderate Akali government all but eroded any support that the militants had.

The professor further stated that:

Whilst it would be fair to say that at the height of the militancy (1989-93), there was considerable coercion of civilians by the militants and security forces, in my judgement this is now not the norm. In fact such a claim would be difficult to uphold, unless, it were part of some enduring feud, related or unrelated, to the legacy of the militant movement.

A Danish Immigration Service report on a fact-finding mission to Punjab conducted from 21 March to 5 April 2000 stated that, while the opinions of sources differed on whether militant groups still existed in Punjab, "it was a widely held opinion that insofar as such groups did exist, their activities in Punjab nowadays were very limited - almost imperceptible" (sec. 6.2). The main groups identified by the various sources as still operating in Punjab were the Khalistan Commando Force, Babbar Khalsa, and the Khalistan Liberation Force (Danish Immigration Service Sept. 2000, sec. 6.2). According to information provided to the Danish Immigration Service both by a representative of the South Asia Human Rights Documentation Centre and by the News Bureau Chief for the Daily Ajit, Babbar Khalsa, the Khalistan Commando Force and the Khalistan Liberation Force "were currently operating from Pakistan and were financed by Sikhs who lived abroad - in the USA and Canada, as well as Germany and Belgium" (ibid.). These sources further stated that "the groups did not have a political ideology as most of the hard core political leaders had either been imprisoned, been murdered in extrajudicial executions, or fled" (ibid.). According to the News Bureau Chief, the groups now consisted largely of "criminal elements," with the relationship between the Khalistan Commando Force and the Babbar Khalsa resembling that of "'two mafia bosses fighting amongst themselves'" (ibid.).

A 19 March 2001 article published in Jane's World Insurgency and Terrorism, referring to such Sikh groups as Babbar Khalsa (Babbar Khalsa International), the All India Sikh Students Federation, the Khalistan Liberation Front, Dal Khalsa, and the Dashmesh Regiment, stated that the objectives of these groups was the establishment of an "independent Sikh state in the Punjab called Khalistan." The article further stated that these groups "are closely allied and some have provided logistical assistance to the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF)" (Jane's World Insurgency and Terrorism 19 Mar. 2001). Referring to the level of threat posed by the groups, the article stated that "Sikh terrorist organisations are a much reduced threat" (ibid.).

For further information on the Babbar Khalsa International, including its aims and a chronology of major incidents, please refer to the Institute for Conflict Management's document "Babbar Khalsa International, Terrorist Outfit, Punjab," available at http://satp.org/satporgtp/countries/india/states/punjab/terrorist_outfits/index.html.

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.


Danish Immigration Service. September 2000. Report on Fact-Finding Mission to Punjab: The Position of the Sikhs. http://www.udlst.dk/udlst_engelsk/sjle1/punjab00/heldok.html [Accessed 8 Oct. 2002]

Executive Director, Institute for Conflict Management, New Delhi. 8 October 2002. Correspondence.

According to information contained on the Website of the South Asia Terrorism Portal the Institute for Conflict Management was established in 1997. It is a registered non-profit, non-governmental organization. The Institute's research topics include terrorism, low intensity warfare, and sectarian and other conflict. Current projects, including the South Asia Terrorism Portal, are supported by the Indian Council for Social Science Research (ICSSR), the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), and the Bureau of Police Research & Development (BPR&D) http://www.satp.org/satporgtp/icm/index.html [Accessed 9 Oct. 2002]

Insitute for Conflict Management, South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP). 2002. "Babbar Khalsa International, Terrorist Outfit, Punjab." http://www.satp.org/satporgtp/sountries/india/states/punjab/terrorist_outfits/index.html [Accessed 7 Oct. 2002]

Jane's World Insurgency and Terrorism. 19 March 2001. "Dal Khalsa, Dashmesh Regiment, Babbar Khalsa, All India Sikh Students Federation and Khalistan Liberation Front." (Jane's Geopolitical Library, CD-ROM)

Professor of Theology, University of Birmingham, United Kingdom. 7 October 2002. Correspondence.


Insitute for Conflict Management, South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP). 2002. "Punjab Assessment - Year 2002." http://www.satp.org/satporgtp/sountries/india/states/punjab/index.html [Accessed 7 Oct. 2002]

Additional Sources Consulted

IRB databases


Oral source:

Unsuccessful attempts to contact one additional academic source

Internet sites including:


Global Security


South Asian Human Rights Documentation Centre

The Times of India

The Tribune

World News Connection

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