New Delhi: The Government of India has declared Lakhbir Singh Landa, a prominent leader of the banned Sikh militant group Babbar Khalsa International (BKI) and a notorious gangster, as a terrorist under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA). This decision was announced by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on Friday, December 29, 2023.
Who is Lakhbir Singh Landa?
Lakhbir Singh Landa, also known as Landa, is a 33-year-old fugitive from the Tarn Taran district of Punjab. He resides in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, where he is involved in pro-Khalistan activities. He is a close associate of Harvinder Singh Sandhu, alias Rinda, a Pakistan-based gangster-turned-terrorist, and the chief of BKI. Landa joined BKI in 2017 after fleeing from India.
Landa is wanted by the National Investigation Agency (NIA), which has registered several cases against him for his role in facilitating the smuggling of weapons and improvised explosive devices (IEDs) from Pakistan to India. He is also accused of conspiring and executing several terrorist attacks in Punjab and other parts of the country.
What are his crimes?
Landa is the mastermind behind the Rocket Propelled Grenade (RPG) attack on the Punjab Police Intelligence Headquarters in Mohali on May 9, 2022, which injured two policemen and damaged several vehicles. He is also responsible for planting an IED under the car of a sub-inspector in Amritsar in 2022, which failed to explode.
Landa is also linked to the pro-Khalistan elements (PKE) of Canada, where he has been spreading propaganda and raising funds for the separatist cause. He is alleged to have set up terrorist modules in Punjab and other states with the help of his associates.
Apart from terrorism, Landa is also involved in various criminal activities such as extortion, murders, blasts, and smuggling of narcotics and weapons. He faces around 18 criminal cases in districts like Amritsar, Tarn Taran, Moga, and Ferozepur. His last case, registered by Punjab Police under kidnapping charges, occurred in Moga in May 2016, just before he escaped to Canada.
What action has been taken against him?
The MHA has designated Landa as a terrorist under the UAPA, which empowers the government to impose travel bans, freeze assets, and take other punitive measures against individuals and organizations involved in terrorism. Landa is the first Canada-based Khalistani leader to be declared a terrorist by India.
The NIA has also announced a cash reward of Rs 10 lakh for information leading to his arrest. A lookout circular was issued against him in 2021. He is among the 20 terrorists whom India wants Pakistan to extradite.
Landa is also facing charges in Canada for his involvement in the murder of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, a Khalistani leader who was shot dead in Surrey in June 2023. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has alleged that Indian agents were behind the killing, a claim that India has rejected as “absurd and motivated”.