Khalistan Liberation Force
The Khalistan Liberation Force (KLF) was one of the leading Sikh freedom fighting organisations that was especially active in the Indian state of Punjab throughout the 1980s and early 1990s. Its aim was the formation of Khalistan (Land of the Pure), encompassing the state of Punjab, and adjoining districts in Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Rajasthan.
The KLF, along with the Babbar Khalsa, the Khalistan Commando Force and the Bhindranwale Tiger Force of Khalistan, made up the four largest and most prominent armed oppositions groups throughout the period of militancy in Punjab.
The KLF was founded by Shaheed Aroor Singh in 1986. His martyrdom led to the leadership of Shaheed Avtar Singh Brahma, under whose expert guidance the KLF really came into its own. Born in 1951, Brahma Sahib became an Amritdhari at the tender age of 15, having witnessed a gatka demonstration at his village. The attack on holy Sri Darbar Sahib by the Indian Army, under the orders incidentally of a Sikh, polarised the opinions and mindsets of many Sikhs. Brahma Sahib was no exception and he formulated a plan to strike back at the heart of the enemy.
Throughout the years of the freedom struggle, the KLF played a pivotal role in the liberation of the Sikh homeland. This advancement of Sikh rights however took a massive setback when Brahma Sahib was cornered by Punjab Police on the Punjab-Rajasthan border. Punjab Police analogues show that Brahma Sahib kept the police at bay for hours, fighting by himself, but never forgetting who his father was, our eternal guru and guide, Shri Guru Gobind Singh Ji. He held proud to the beliefs of the Khalsa Panth that he had sworn to protect. Shaheed Avtar Singh Brahma attained martyrdom on 21st May 1988.
There are ample examples of the bravery of this great modern day Khalsa general. One classic example was an encounter between Brahma Sahib and a handful of his fellow Singh’s, and the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), who were under orders to help Punjab Police cope with the freedom struggle.
In order to locate and kill Brahma Sahib, the CRPF had stationed an entire platoon in his village, to terrorise and intimidate the local population. Hearing of the police excesses, Brahma Sahib decided to do something about it the Khalsa Panth way. On the night of December 27th 1986, Brahma Sahib and his fellow Singh’s entered Brahmpura (his village) around midnight. He went to the gurdwara and after offering his respects, he commandeered the loudspeaker. He proceeded to challenge the CRPF (variants of the following can be seen in CRPF archives):
“Residents of Brahmpura, I am your Avtar Singh speaking. I know that the CRPF is harassing you because of me and asking you to tell them my whereabouts. I challenge the CRPF: if you have the courage, come and get Avtar Singh Brahma.
"There’s no bravery in bothering the innocent villagers here. Let’s have a contest of bravery today and satisfy ourselves. You have weapons and so do we. Let’s have a real encounter tonight and in the morning you can count how many of your men the Singh’s have mowed down. Come on CRPF-valio!"
"You are proud of the strength of Delhi and its army and we are proud of our Guru. We are Guru Gobind Singh’s sons and we can fight 125 000 alone."
There was no reply, so Brahma Sahib once again challenged the best men that Delhi could muster:
"CRPF-valio! Come out of your quarters! Brahma, a Sikh of the Guru is waiting for you. The Brahma you couldn’t find in the Mand is now waiting for you! I don’t believe in spilling the blood of innocents and I don’t attack those without weapons. I’m here to meet you now."
CRPF-valio, you can meet me any way and any time. Give up your bothering of innocents and come in front of Brahma and satisfy your desire to prove your bravery! Bole So Nihaal! Sat Sri Akal!!! Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa, Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh!"
According to the CRPF archive from which this report was obtained, Brahma Sahib attempted for a full 25 minutes to coax the CRPF to fight: the challenge was never accepted. Not a single person came forward. Not a single son from the famed CRPF came forward to exchange swords with the son of Guru Gobind Singh Ji. Having shamed the CRPF, Brahma Sahib and his fellow Singh’s left, shouting Jaikaraas into the open sky.
The CRPF, shamed, now ran amok in the village, shooting randomly and raping 5 women. The subsequent shame made international news and even pressed Julieo Ribeiro, the former director general of Punjab Police into action. As he notes in his biography, “KPS Gill was then Inspector General of the CRPF. He was not willing to take any action against his men. He approached the home ministry in Delhi to ensure that sanction was not accorded for criminal prosecution. Finally, the Government of India did not sanction the prosecution.”
The myth of Avtar Singh Brahma and the Khalistan Liberation Force had begun. However, following his untimely death, the leadership of the KLF passed to Shaheed Bhai Gurjant Singh Budhsinghwala. Bhai Sahib had become a member of the KLF under the wing of its founder, Shaheed Aroor Singh, and swiftly progressed through its ranks with his daring exploits. Following the martyrdom of Avtar Singh Brahma, he was deemed to be the natural successor.
The family of Gurjant Singh Budhsinghwala paid a heavy price for his involvement in the freedom struggle: both his uncle and his cousin were killed in fake encounters. The Punjab Police didn’t stop there: a police commander by the name of Mith Singh was appointed to head the police force near Bhai Sahib’s home village. It has been well documented that Mith Singh dragged Bhai Sahib’s father by the hair to the police station. It is alleged that he openly taunted him in front of the passing public:
“Go get your tiger of a son to come face me, face to face”
Having learned of this development, according to Punjab Police reports of the incident, Bhai Sahib, along with 3 associates, Lakhvinder Singh Lakha, Ajmer Singh Lodhivaal and Darshan Singh Tarkhanbad, walked into the police station and liquated the commanding police officer, Mith Singh. The other police officers locked themselves up within the police station, and no fire was returned. Just like Avtar Singh Brahma, the legend of Gurjant Singh Budhsinghwala was beginning to grow.
According to Punjab Police, he was personally held responsible for the deaths of several police officers, including many district and local commanding officers, including: 1. Senior Superintendent of Police (S.S.P) Gobind Ram 2. S.S.P A.S.Brar of Patiala 3. S.S.P R.S.Gill 4. Superintendent of Police Detective R.S.Tiwana 5. Detective Superintendent of Police Tara Chand Jagroan
Other police officers were seriously injured, including: 1. S.S.P Semedh Saini 2. S.P Kehar Singh 3. D.G.P Mangat
He was also responsible for killing Congress officials, most notably: 1. Punjab Congress Vice President Lala Bagvan Daas (killed in Jaito) 2. Ex-treasurer Balwant Singh (killed in Chandigarh) 3. Magistrate Goyal Moga
He also kidnapped the Romanian diplomat L. Radu, thereby bringing the injustice the Sikhs were enduring to global attention. In doing so, he avenged the deaths of many Shaheeds. However, his leadership was brought to a close by his martyrdom, on 31st July 1992, at the tender age of 28. The Khalsa Panth and the Sikh people would never forget the ultimate sacrifice that he made.
Following the slaying of Shaheed Gurjant Singh Budhsinghwala, leadership of the KLF passed to Shaheed Kuldip Singh Keepa Shekhupura. His leadership saw the decline of the Khalistan Liberation Force, as the Punjab Police, the CRPF, the Border Security Force and the large contingent of the Indian Army based in Punjab, all began using excessive force in dealing with the freedom struggle. The martyrdom of Shaheed Kuldip Singh Keepa Shekhupura brought to the fore Shaheed Navneet Singh Khadian.
Like his predecessor, his reign as Chief of the KLF was short. Despite holding his own and being instrumental in many of the KLF’s successes, the overall sapping of the Sikh freedom struggle was taking its toll. Bhai Sahib attained martyrdom on the night of the 25th February 1994. He was aged just 24.
The Khalistan Liberation Force at the present time is a shell of its former self. The days of Avtar Singh Brahma and Gurjant Singh Budhsinghwala are long gone. However, the KLF is still active and enjoys considerable support in rural areas of Punjab, albeit on a much more covert scale than before. The popularity of its leaders, particularly Shaheed Avtar Singh Brahma and Shaheed Gurjant Singh Budhsinghwala, ensure its continuing portrayal amongst the Sikh community.
Although its numbers have shrunk, its intent and will to wage war on the Indian state that has attempted to mutilate the Sikh faith so vehemently cannot be denied. Its underground followers still possess considerable firepower, and like the rest of the freedom fighting organisations, its activity is only being held in check by the general uneasy peace that has been conveyed on Punjab in recent years.
Nevertheless, the grievances of the Sikhs still remain, and coupled with the large undercurrent of support for the freedom struggle, especially abroad, the revival of the Khalistan Liberation Force is a not too distant thought. Should the grievances of the Sikhs not be addressed fully and properly, and should a charismatic leader arise, the resurrection and resurgence of the Khalistan Liberation Force as a phoenix like organisation could very well be under way.
|Khalistani Guerilla Groups|
|♣♣ Babbar Khalsa ♣♣ Khalistan Commando Force ♣♣ Bhindranwala Tigers Force of Khalistan ♣♣ Khalistan Zindabad Force ♣♣ Khalistan Liberation Force ♣♣|