RIC Query - India (22 June 1999)
|Response to Information Request Number:||IND99001.ZNK|
|Date:||June 22, 1999|
|Subject:||India: Information on Whether There Was Any Terrorist Activity in the Jalandhar District of the Punjab in 1996|
|From:||INS Resource Information Center|
|Keywords:||India / Terrorism / Political violence / State terror|
Whether there was any terrorist activity in the Jalandhar District of the Punjab in 1996?
On February 28, 1997, India Today reported that during 1996, 86 militants were arrested and three were killed in encounters with the police. Regarding acts of terrorism in 1996, India Today reported:
The assassination of chief minister Beant Singh in a 'human bomb' attack in August 1995 bolstered the foreign-based militant leaders' plans to establish a base in Punjab. Much of these, however, were nipped by police in undercover operations. Last year, 86 militants were arrested and three killed in encounters. Those arrested included a dozen Pakistan-trained militants belonging to the Khalistan Commando Force (KCF), Babar Khalsa and the International Sikh Youth Federation. The police scored major successes with the arrest of Daljit Singh Bittu, a wanted militant for long, and the recent extraditions of top KCF militant Daya Singh Lahoria from the US and the Babbar Khalsa's Kanwarpal Singh from Bangkok.
Intelligence agencies, however, reckon that the militants' striking capacity remain high despite their depleted strength and inability to recruit youth. A list of the seizures made last year amply illustrates this: 401 weapons, including 24 AK-47 rifles, and over a quintal of RDX. The major militant groups have switched over to attacking specific targets for more impact. According to intelligence reports, about half a dozen 'human bombs' sneaked into India last year. A secret dossier obtained by India Today reveals that 300 militants, including 26 hardcore ones, are still at large in Punjab. (India Today 28 Feb. 1997, 59)
On December 2, 1996, a bomb blew up a crowded passenger train just as it was pulling out of the Ambala cantonment railway station in Haryana state near the border with Punjab, killing at least 12 people and injuring more than 30 others. No one claimed responsibility for the blast, but officials in Chandigarh, joint capital of Punjab and Haryana, initially blamed Sikh militants. The blast would have occurred near Ludhiana if the train, which was running from Pune to Jammu in Kashmir state, had not been running 90 minutes late. The Indian Union Home Minister called the train blast "an act of terrorism by a Punjab-based militant group." The Home Minister said that in the wake of the blast the authorities decided to conduct extensive raids on the hideouts of terrorists on the basis of information available with the intelligence agencies, and the Government had decided to tighten security around the public and government buildings in Punjab, Haryana and Delhi and provide necessary security to targeted Akali leaders. Later newspapers were cited as indicating that the bomb attack near Chandigarh "could have been the work of Sikh militants fighting for a homeland in the state of Punjab or Moslem militants in Kashmir, though no one had yet claimed responsibility." Even later, the police reportedly said that they suspected Kashmiri separatists set the bomb which ripped apart the railway sleeping car.
Hours before the train bombing, a prominent Sikh politician, Bichhitar Singh, was shot dead near his home in Punjab's Ropar district. Singh, a leader within the moderate Akali Dal party, was returning to his village late Sunday when he was killed. He was a former state lawmaker. Singh was on his way home when four unidentified militants in a van ambushed his jeep and opened fire, killing him on the spot. Police said the terrorists escaped immediately after the attack. (AFP 2 Dec. 1996; DPA, 2 Dec 1996; The Hindu, 3 Dec. 1996, 1; The Times of London, 3 Dec. 1996,12; The Hindu 4 Dec. 1996, 15; AsiaWeek, 13 Dec. 1996.
Information on specific terrorist activities in the Jalandhar District of the Punjab in 1996 could not be found among sources currently available to the RIC. However, in March 1997, a bomb blast outside the Jalandhar railway station killed seven people and injured around a dozen others. This was said to be the first bombing to take place in Punjab since the new Akali-BJP coalition took power in the state. Though no one claimed responsibility for the blast, the head of the Punjab police ruled out the involvement of Sikh militants, stating that the bombing "was in no way related to Punjab militants or Sikh militants." It was suggested that the bomb blast may be the work of a Pakistani-supported Kashmir militant group called the "Lashkar-e-Tauba." (AFP 14 Mar. 1997; The Hindu 15 Mar 1997, 1)
This response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the RIC within time constraints. This response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum.
Agence France-Presse (AFP). 14 March 1997. "Blast Kills Six in India's Punjab" (Westlaw).
Agence France-Presse (AFP). 2 December 1996. "12 Die in Indian Train Blast, Sikh Politician Killed"(Westlaw).
AsiaWeek. 13 December 1996. "Police Say They Suspect Kashmiri Separatists Set Bomb" (Westlaw).
Deutsche Presse Agentur (DPA). 2 December 1996. "12 Killed, 31 Injured as Bomb Rips Through Train in India" (Westlaw).
The Hindu. 15 March 1997. "Seven Killed in Jalandhar Blast" (Westlaw).
The Hindu. 4 December 1996. "Punjab-based Group's Hand Seen in Train Blast" (Westlaw)
The Hindu. 3 December 1996. "12 Killed in Bomb Blast on Train in Ambala" (Westlaw).
India Today. 28 February 1997. "Militancy: Dwindling Menace."
The Times of London. 3 December 1996. "Sikhs Suspected of Train Bomb" (Westlaw).