Arrested Lashkar-e-Tayiba bomb-maker Syed Abdul Karim Tunda has told his interrogators that banned Sikh separatist outfit Babbar Khalsa International has deep ties with Pakistan’s Inter-Service Intelligence, and is waiting for an opportunity to strike in Punjab. Vicky Nanjappa reports
The threat the organisations such as the BKI pose is something that has been often spoken about. When the Punjab government, thanks to former director general of police KPS Gill finished the menace of terrorism in that state, many of these operatives took shelter under Pakistan’s Inter-services Intelligence which welcomed them with open arms.
Tunda has confirmed this fact and has told the Delhi police that the ISI in fact is nurturing the BKI and is only waiting for an opportunity to strike. Tunda, who has been accused of aiding the BKI carry out the Satyam Cinema blast in New Delhi told his interrogators that these BKI operatives continue to remain under the shadow of the ISI and use the LeT network in India to carry out operations
According to Tunda, over the years, the ISI wants to ensure that the BKI becomes self-sufficient on the lines of the Indian Mujahideen. The last ISI-BKI meeting was held in April 2013.
BKI would continue to use the Lashkar networks in India
During this meeting, it transpired that the ISI intended to ensure that all terrorist groupls of Punjab fought under one banner. The BKI had to merge with itself the various other outfits such as the Dal Khalsa, The Khalistan Commando Force, the Khalistan Zindabad Force, the International Sikh Youth Federation and the Khalistan Liberation Force.
The meeting, which took place in Lahore mulled over future operations and how they needed to become self-sufficient and stop being linked with the ISI -- for public consumption. The ISI wanted the BKI to unleash terror in Punjab yet again, and show to the world that it was a home-grown problem within India.
The BKI would continue to use the Lashkar networks in India and seek help of some operatives for logistics. This however would be an interim measure before they could get their own modules to function independently.
There have been stray incidents in the past involving the BKI -- an arms haul in Ambala and several arrests on charges of counterfeiting were incidents aimed at testing the waters. Tunda revealed that the intention was never to carry out an attack, since the ISI had not yet given them the go ahead to launch a full-fledged operation.
Tunda told his interrogators that the ISI wanted to create a force comprising the BKI and wanted to have over a 1,000 operatives. They had been told to conduct a massive recruitment drive within Punjab and try roping in disgruntled youth into their fold.
The fact however remains that they have not been entirely successful and hence in the first leg of their operation they would rely on the 150-odd operatives who are hiding in Pakistan. In addition, there is a great deal of support from other countries. They have contacted sympathisers in various countries and have got a good response from countries such as the United Kingdom, Canada and Thailand. The main purpose of building international contacts, according to Tunda was to generate funds.
The first on the agenda of the BKI according to Tunda’s confession would be to target religious and political leaders in Punjab. They have been told to be very careful and not carry out blasts since the loss of innocent lives would not give them any sympathy and at a time of rebuilding they would not want the public to go against them.