U.K. lifts ban on Sikh separatist outfit

In a move that is likely to cause consternation in New Delhi, the British government has lifted the ban on the International Sikh Youth Federation (ISYF) after both houses of the British Parliament supported a motion to drop it from the list of proscribed organisations.

The statutory instrument relating to the Terrorism Act 2000 (Proscribed Organisations) (Amendment) Order 2016 was signed by Minister of State in the Home Office, John Hayes.

The ISYF, a separatist group committed to the creation of Khalistan was established in the 1984 as the global branch of the All India Sikh Students Federation. It was proscribed as a terrorist organisation in 2001 by the British government for its attacks, which included assassinations, bombings and kidnappings against Indian officials.

The most recent assassination attempt by Sikh terrorists was in September 2012 against Lieutenant-General Kuldeep Singh Brar and his wife. The general, who led the military offensive codenamed Operation Bluestar against terrorists holed up in the Golden Temple in 1982, narrowly escaped death when four Sikh men attacked him and his wife with knives in central London.

Yet in his statement to the House of Commons, Minister of State for Home Lord Bates said that although in the past the ISYF was involved in terrorism, “there is now not sufficient evidence to support a reasonable belief that the ISYF is currently concerned in terrorism as defined by Section 3(5) of the Terrorism Act 2000.”

Welcoming the decision, Bhai Amrik Singh, Chair of the Sikh Federation (UK), said he felt “vindicated” and would continue to fight for Khalistan. The ISYF has “never been involved in terrorism,” he said. “There is absolutely nothing wrong with peacefully campaigning for an independent Sikh homeland, Khalistan.” The Sikh Federation will use the British decision to put pressure on the US and Canada to lift the bans in their countries on the organisation.

“The ISYF was not formed to develop Sikhism or spread its teachings,” a Sikh journalist and commentator, who did not wish to be named, told The Hindu. “This will cause a sectarian divide within the Sikh community pitting one group against the other. The Sikhs are a numerical force in the UK today, and the move to de-proscribe the ISYF may have had electoral considerations. It is also a way of putting pressure on India.”

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Printable version | Jan 28, 2022 8:49:42 AM |

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