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Are Khalistani extremists trying to make a comeback?

Last updated on: October 14, 2011 13:26 IST

On Wednesday, a vehicle laden with explosives was  seized outside a railway station in Ambala, Haryana. Preliminary investigations suggest that the explosives were meant to carry out a major explosion around Diwali in Delhi.  Investigations also suggest that this operation may have been a joint venture of the Lashkar-e-Tayiba and the Babbar Khalsa International.

On May 25 this year, a minor blast had rocked the Delhi high court. Though no casualties were reported, investigators had then suggested the hand of Khalistani terrorists, and that they may be active in Delhi. Sheela Bhatt reports.

According to a senior source in the Intelligence Bureau, when a minor blast occurred outside the Delhi high court on May 25, an intelligence input was received that a Sikh militant group may try to do something in New Delhi to draw attention to Professor Davinderpal Singh Bhullar's mercy plea before President Pratibha Patil.

The day after that blast, President Patil rejected Bhullar's mercy plea.

The New Delhi police, among many leads, was investigating if Professor Bhullar's associates in the Khalistani movement were involved in the September 7 blast outside the high court. The verdict is still out to identify the terrorist organisation behind the blast, which killed 11 people and wounded 75 others.

The Intelligence Bureau source admitted that only one intelligence input was received about a possible terror attack in New Delhi and that input specifically mentioned that Professor Bhullar's supporters may be active in New Delhi.

Professor Bhullar was sentenced to death on August 29, 2001 for his terror-related activities in New Delhi in 1993.

When his mercy plea was pending before the President for eight years, Professor Bhullar was kept in solitary confinement.

The plea for mercy was made by Upkar Kaur and Sarabjit Kaur, the professor's mother and wife.

When the Constitutional review petition was rejected by the President, Professor Bhullar was being treated for depression and suicidal tendencies.

Professor Bhullar was deported from Germany, where he had sought political asylum, to India in 1995.

The World Sikh Organisation of Canada is supporting Professor Bhullar's case. On July 26, Sikhs protested outside the United Nations in New York to put pressure on the Indian government not to carry out the death sentence.

There is a Facebook page campaigning to save the professor's life and concerns have been expressed on some blogs that his execution could affect the extradition of other Sikh militants from Europe, where the death penalty is banned.

Sheela Bhatt in New Delhi