In a recent development from Pakistan, the chief of the banned Khalistan Liberation Force, Lakhbir Singh Rode, has reportedly died at the age of 72 due to a heart attack. The news was confirmed by his brother, Jasbir Singh Rode, who stated that Lakhbir had been cremated on Monday.
Lakhbir Singh Rode gained notoriety as a Khalistani terrorist and was implicated in the 1985 bombing of Air India Flight 182 Kanishka, resulting in the tragic loss of over 300 lives.
Rode, the nephew of slain Khalistani terrorist Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, also held the position of self-styled head of the banned International Sikh Youth Federation (ISYF). Designated as an “individual terrorist” under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), he had sought refuge in Pakistan.
Recently, a National Investigation Agency (NIA) special court in Mohali had ordered the confiscation of his land in Punjab’s Moga district under UAPA.
Lakhbir Singh Rode, allegedly working with Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), played a pivotal role in disrupting peace in India. He was believed to be the mastermind behind the 2021 Ludhiana court blast and the orchestrator of the killing of Shaurya Chakra awardee Comrade Balwinder Singh during an anti-terrorism operation in 2020.
According to the United States (US) State Department, Rode’s ISYF had connections with various terrorist groups, including Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT). Additionally, he was booked for orchestrating the smuggling of arms, drugs, and explosives across the border using drones, along with nine other individuals.
Lakhbir Singh Rode’s demise coincides with the ongoing diplomatic tension between Canada and India, triggered by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s accusations regarding the killing of Khalistani terrorist Hardeep Singh Nijjar in Canada. India has denied any involvement in Nijjar’s death, who was the chief of the banned Khalistan Tiger Force (KTF).
The circumstances surrounding Rode’s death add a layer of complexity to the already sensitive diplomatic situation between the two nations.