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9) Lakhbir Singh Rode

June 24, 2008
Lakhbir Singh Rode is the leader of another Sikh militant group -- the International Sikh Youth Federation, which was founded in London soon after Operation Bluestar in 1984.

The group was proscribed under Prevention of Terrorism Act in 2001, but is considered to be active with a lot of support from Pakistan's ISI.

Described by security forces in Punjab as a hardcore terrorist, Rode, who is the nephew of Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, is a dangerous enemy of the state because of the immense political clout he wielded in parts of Punjab. He is said to be a key fundraiser for the Khalistani movement. Towards the end of the 1980s, Rode left his family in Canada -- where they continue to live -- and shifted base to Lahore, where he still lives.

If the KZF works closely with the Kashmir militants, the ISYF was the first outfit ever to touch base with Markaze Dawat War Irshad, the parent body of the Lashkar-e-Tayiba. In the mid-1990s, Rode and other leader are said to have met Abdul Karim Tunda and Khwaja Moin and set the ball rolling for joint action between the Kashmir militants and the Khalistani extremists.

The outfit's ties with the ISI also date back to these years. The ISI has since provided training camps, funds, arms and ammunition to members of ISYF along with other Khalistani groups.

That this outfit, whose operatives were arrested in 1997 when a bid to assassinate the then Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal, is to be taken seriously became clear when Intelligence sources reported in March 2008 that the ISI is making serious attempts to revive Sikh militancy in India by coordinating among various terror outfits.

Its activities were planned from the US, Canada and European countries, the sources reported. Sources also said that the Babbar Khalsa International, the LeT and the ISYF met in 2007 in Berlin where it was decided that financial support will be extended to the LeT and logistical support to the Sikh outfits to carry out attacks in India.

Image: A Sikh displays the cover of a magazine on which is a picture from 1984 showing the damaged Goden Temple after Operation Bluestar. The operation was aimed at arresting Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale (a Sikh leader) and his militant followers who had initiated a movement for a separate Sikh state.
Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

Also read: 'The Khalistan problem is not yet over'
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