The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) labelled nine more individuals as “terrorists” under the amended anti-terror law that was passed by the Indian Parliament last year.
These nine persons who are declared as terrorists have been found to be linked to separatist Khalistani groups that seek to establish a separate country for the Sikhs.
The Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), enacted in 1967, was first amended in 2004, 2008 and 2013. The 2004 amendment was to ban organisations for terrorist activities, under which 34 outfits, including the Lashkar-e-Taiba and the Jaish-e-Mohammad were banned. The UAPA as amended in August last year gave the MHA the power to designate individuals as terrorists.
The nine terrorists are Wadhawa Singh Babbar, Pakistan-based chief of terrorist organisation Babbar Khalsa International; Lakhbir Singh, based in Pakistan and chief of terrorist organisation International Sikh Youth Federation; Ranjeet Singh, based in Pakistan and chief of terrorist outfit Khalistan Zindabad Force; Paramjit Singh, based in Pakistan and chief of the Khalistan Commando Force; Bhupinder Singh Bhinda from Germany, who is a key member of Khalistan Zindabad Force; Gurmeet Singh Bagga from Germany, also an important member of Khalistan Zindabad Force; Gurpatwant Singh Pannun from the U.S.A., a key member of the unlawful association called Sikh for Justice; Hardeep Singh Nijjar from Canada, who is the chief of the Khalistan Tiger Force; and Paramjit Singh from United Kingdom, who heads the Babbar Khalsa International there.
“These individuals are involved in various acts of terrorism from across the border and from foreign soil. They have been relentless in their nefarious efforts of destabilising the country, by trying to revive militancy in Punjab through their anti-national activities and through their support to and involvement in the Khalistan Movement,” read the statement issued by the MHA.
In September 2019, there were four individuals who were first designated as terrorists were Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Masood Azhar, Lashkar-e-Taiba’s Hafiz Saeed, his deputy Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, and underworld don Dawood Ibrahim, who planned and executed the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts.
Home Minister Amit Shah had said in Rajya Sabha on August 2 last year that “it was important to identify terrorists and not just organisations”. However, opposition had raised concerns in Parliament that the law could be misused against political opponents and civil society activists.
The designations are in alignment with laws in European Union (EU) countries, the U.S.A., China, Israel and even Pakistan and Sri Lanka, an MHA official had earlier said.