LONDON: A long-drawn battle is underway within the banned terror group Khalistan Liberation Force (KLF) more than 4 months after the suspicious death of its leader Harmeet Singh alias Happy PhD. Harmeet Singh died under mysterious circumstances in Lahore in January of 2020.
In the fray for the leadership of KLF are radical elements from Pakistan, UK, Italy, and Switzerland. Pakistan- based Lakhbir Singh Rode also Chief of International Sikh Youth Federation (ISYF), Paramjeet Singh Panjwar, the UK based Paramjeet Singh Panjwar, Gursharanvir Singh Wahiwala, KLF spokesperson Dhanna Singh, Italy- based Gurjinder Singh Shastri and Switzerland based Pappu Singh are trying to take the mantle of the group.
While KLF has its separatist Khalistani agenda, the mainstay of its existence is by drug trafficking especially in Indian Punjab, and Pakistan’s notorious Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) has used the terror group for smuggling illegal weapons and drugs into India.
The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) had banned KLF in 2018 under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA).
ISI has been backing Lakhbir Singh Rode and Paramjeet Singh Panjwar. Both are trying to get support from cadre based in Italy, Germany, Canada and the UK to become next KLF chief. Wahiwala and Shastri do not seem to have the support of the ISI, which can make things difficult for them.
KLF is now heading towards a schism with a new faction emerging led by UK based Gursharanvir Singh Wahiwala. Wahiwala is getting support from cadres in Canada, US and Italy. What has increased the infighting is Wahiwala alleging that Dhanna Singh, the spokesperson of KLF, is responsible for the killing of Happy PhD.
Interestingly, Dhanna was in Pakistan in the second week of January, just days before the killing of Happy PhD. It was followed by a letter from him on February 12, 2020, to the cadre in which he called Happy PhD as a "self-styled leader". Taking a dig at him and other KLF leaders, he wrote in the letter that advice given by veteran leaders such as Devenderpal Singh Bhullar, Daya Singh Lahoriya, Lal Singh and Harnek Singh Bhap were ignored. He also called ex KLF chief Harminder Singh Mintoo as “devil and agent of Indian agencies” and both Mintoo and Happy PhD do not deserve the "honour of Jathedar bestowed upon them". The remarks and letter have drawn furious reactions from the hardcore KLF cadre who have warned him of serious consequences.
Meanwhile, the house of Gursharanvir Singh was raided by Mid Westland Police in UK on February 19th on the complaint made by Dhanna Singh fueling the acrimony.
UK based KLF militants had assembled on February 23 to discuss the future course of the group after the death of Happy PhD. A total of 8 people--Gursharanvir Singh, Amritveer Singh, Avtar Singh Khandaand Amanveer Singh-attended the meeting. Gursharanvir vouched for himself citing his close ties with former KLF chiefs --Happy PhD, Mintooo. While asking to avoid Italian and swiss contender he called for the continuation of violent activities.