Khalistan Commando Force

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Khalistan Commando Force
Leader(s) Manbir Singh Chaheru (1987)
Labh Singh  (1987–1988)
Kanwaljit Singh Sultanwind (1988–1989)
Paramjit Singh Panjwar[1]
Dates of operation 1987–1993
Motives The creation of a Sikh independent state of Khalistan in Punjab, as well as some districts of neighbouring states of India where all Sikhs can live without fear or any kind of discrimination and they will get their proper rights.
Active region(s) India
Ideology Protection of Sikh rights from Pakistan
Status India Under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act designated as terrorist organisation by the Government of India[2]

The Khalistan Commando Force or KCF is an armed Sikh organisation operating in the Indian state of Punjab. According to the US State Department,[3] and the Assistant Inspector General of the Punjab Police Intelligence Division,[4] the KCF was responsible for many assassinations in India, including the 1995 assassination of Chief Minister Beant Singh.[3]


The KCF is a controversial organisation. Its conception was directly the result of the activities in 1984 and the military action undertaken by the Indian armed forces culminating in the shelling of the Golden Temple. As per the Indian government, the KCF is classified as a terrorist organisation, However they are not globally declared as a terrorist organization. Most notably, The KCF is not designated as a terrorist organisation by United States Department of State.[3][5][6]

Khalistan Commando forces members claim to be freedom fighters[7] and have support among a section of Sikh diaspora.[8]

Formation and leadership[edit]

The Khalistan Commando Force was founded by Manbir Singh Chaheru in 1986.[9][10][11]

On 8 August 1986, Punjab Police arrested Manbir Singh Chaheru ("Hari Singh"), and he was eventually killed[12][13] or disappeared[14] while in police custody. After Chaheru was arrested, former police officer Sukhdev Singh, also known as Sukha Sipahi, took command of the KCF. Sukhdev Singh changed his name to Labh Singh and assumed the title of "General".

After his death the KCF was headed by Kanwarjit Singh Sultanwind[15][16] On 18 October 1989, Kanwarjit Singh Sultanwind,[17] and another two KCF members were arrested by police near Jalandhar. While one member managed to escape, Kanwarjit Singh Sultanwind, then 23 years old, swallowed a cyanide capsule to avoid giving information about the group.[17]


Police killed Labh Singh on 12 July 1988.[18] His loss damaged the organisation. After his death, the Khalistan Commando Force split into factions including those led by Wassan Singh Zaffarwal, Paramjit Singh Panjwar and Gurjant Singh Rajasthani.[19]

Another result of Labh Singh's death was the failure of the Khalistan Commando Force - Babbar Khalsa alliance, as the relationship established by Labh Singh and Sukhdev Singh Babbar was lost.[20]

Police and other Indian security forces caught or killed Lieutenant Generals and Area Commanders, and eventually crushed many of the factions.[21]



The organisation battled Indian military forces, especially in revenge for Operation Blue Star, the government's 1984 military operation in the Harimandir Sahib (Golden Temple) in Amritsar.[citation needed]

It assassinated General Arun Vaidya, who led the Indian forces in Operation Blue Star.[22]

It also attacked sellers of alcohol, cigarettes, and other items prohibited by conservative Sikhism.[23]

It was also suspected of involvement in the 1987 Punjab killings.


After the major defeats of the KCF in the late 1980s, the group continued its struggle into the 1990s.[citation needed]

A June 1991 attack on a passenger train in northwestern Punjab killed about fifty, mostly Hindu, passengers.[24] A September 1993 bombing in New Delhi targeting Indian Youth Congress president Maninderjeet Singh Bitta that killed eight people.[25]

On 9 October 1992, Harjinder Singh Jinda and Sukhdev Singh Sukha, alleged assassins of General Arun Vaidya, were hanged until death in Pune jail.[26][27]

Gurdev Singh Debu was reportedly boiled alive by Indian security forces.[28]

Police also killed thousands of suspects in staged shootouts and burned thousands of dead bodies to cover up the murders.[29][30]

The KCF was listed in 1995 one of the 4 "major militant groups" in the Khalistan movement.[31]


In June 2006 a member of the Panjwar faction of the KCF, Kulbir Singh Barapind was extradited from the US to India. He was deported to India for belonging to a terrorist organisation and for entering the United States with a false passport. He was wanted in India for thirty-two cases, but was arrested for three murders in the early 1990s.[32] After his arrest, he stated that he would renew the Khalistan movement through peaceful means.[33]

The investigation began in 2003, when Khalid Awan, jailed at the time for credit card fraud, bragged of his relationship with Paramjeet Singh Panjwar, leader of the KCF.[3] Awan was given a 14-year prison sentence in 2007 on terrorism charges.[34]

In 2008, Punjab Police announced they had foiled a KCF effort to kill Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, head of Dera Sacha Sauda.[citation needed]


Paramjeet Singh Panjwar remained the head of the remaining faction of the KCF as of 2008, and was listed at that time as one of the top 10 most wanted criminals in India.[35]

The University of Maryland beta version of the "Global Terrorism Database" has recorded 2 attacks on military targets, 9 attacks on police or other government targets, and 9 attacks against civilian, religious, transportation or educational entities, in both India and Pakistan, as of June 2009.[36]

The KCF remains banned in India.[citation needed]

A 2011 NPR report claimed a person associated with this group was imprisoned in a highly restrictive Communication Management Unit in the US.[37]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Paramjit Singh Panjwar (Khalistan Commando Force) The Indian Express, 4 December 2008
  2. ^ "Terrorism Act 2000". Ministry of Home Affairs (India). Retrieved 20 May 2012. 
  3. ^ a b c d "U.S. Court Convicts Khalid Awan for Supporting Khalistan Commando Force". Embassy of the United States in New Delhi, India. 20 December 2006. Archived from the original on 11 December 2008. Retrieved 30 May 2009. 
  4. ^ "Law Enforcement Cases: International Narcotics Control Strategy Report: Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs". US Department of State. March 2008. Retrieved 8 June 2009. 
  5. ^ [1] Archived 5 December 2011 at the Wayback Machine.
  6. ^ "Law Enforcement Cases: International Narcotics Control Strategy Report: Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs". US Department of State. March 2008. Retrieved 8 June 2009. 
  7. ^ Mahmood, Cynthia Keppley (1997). Fighting for Faith and Nation: Dialogues with Sikh Militants (illustrated ed.). Many interviews, example on page 102: University of Pennsylvania Press. p. 314. ISBN 978-0-8122-1592-2. 
  8. ^ "U.S. Sikhs back militants' fight for homeland". THE WASHINGTON TIMES. 18 November 1991. Retrieved 20 June 2009. 
  9. ^ Encyclopedia of modern worldwide ... - Google Books. Retrieved 9 August 2009. 
  10. ^ Fighting for faith and nation ... - Google Books. Retrieved 9 August 2009. 
  11. ^ Violence as political discourse - Google Books. 13 October 2008. Retrieved 9 August 2009. 
  12. ^ The Journal of Commonwealth & comparative politics by Taylor & Francis. 12 June 2008. Retrieved 9 August 2009. [dead link]
  13. ^ "The Killings In Sangrur Jail". Ihro. June 2009. 
  14. ^ Mahmood, Cynthia Keppley (1997). Fighting for Faith and Nation: Dialogues with Sikh Militants (illustrated ed.). University of Pennsylvania Press. p. 314. ISBN 978-0-8122-1592-2. 
  15. ^ "800 years of Sultanwind". Punjab Heritage. 28 July 2006. Retrieved 9 August 2009. [dead link]
  16. ^ Terror in the mind of God: the ... - Google Books. Retrieved 9 August 2009. 
  17. ^ a b Juergensmeyer, Mark (2003). "The Sword of Sikhism". Terror in the mind of God (3 ed.). University of California Press. p. 95. ISBN 978-0-520-24011-7. Retrieved 18 June 2009. 
  18. ^ Terrorism in context - Page 399. Retrieved 9 August 2009. 
  19. ^ Terrorism & It's Effects - various - Google Books. Retrieved 2012-04-07. 
  20. ^ Genesis of terrorism: an analytical study of Punjab terrorists. Patriot. 1988. Retrieved 9 August 2009. ...(KCF) which is headed by General Labh Singh alias Sukhdev Singh alias Sukha Sipahi. Perhaps he continued to maintain his links with the Babbar Khalsa also. 
  21. ^ Terrorism in context - Martha Crenshaw - Google Books. Retrieved 2012-04-07. 
  22. ^ Mahmood, Cynthia Keppley (1997). Fighting for Faith and Nation: Dialogues with Sikh Militants (illustrated ed.). University of Pennsylvania Press. p. 155. ISBN 978-0-8122-1592-2. 
  23. ^ Brown, Derek. Fanatical Sikhs turn on traders, The Guardian, 8 April 1987.
  24. ^ Ravi Sharma, Massacre on passenger trains turns routine trip nightmare, United Press International, 16 June 1991.
  25. ^ Three Sikh militant factions claim Delhi blast, Agence France-Presse 13 September 1993.
  26. ^ McGirk, Tim (10 October 1992). "Protests after hanging of Sikhs". The Independent. London. 
  27. ^ "The Tribune, Chandigarh, India - Punjab". Retrieved 2012-04-07. 
  28. ^ "Lack Of Hindu Think Tank, Manhood And Awareness Leads To Hindu/Sikh Family Break Up". Archived from the original on 2 August 2009. Retrieved 9 August 2009. 
  29. ^ "India: Who killed the Sikhs". World News Australia. 3 April 2002. 
  30. ^ Special Broadcasting Service :: Dateline - presented by George Negus Archived 28 August 2008 at the Wayback Machine.
  31. ^ Martha Crenshaw, ed. (1 January 1995). Terrorism in Context. Pennsylvania State University Press. p. 394 and others. ISBN 978-0-271-01015-1. Retrieved 30 May 2009. 
  32. ^ Kulbir Singh sent to police custody, The Times of India, 19 June 2006.
  33. ^ Zee News, India, "Judicial remand of Khalistan militant extended till 27 July" 14 July 2006
  34. ^ Pak-Canadian jailed for aiding Khalistan ultras The Sunday Indian, 4 April 2012
  35. ^ "8) Paramjit Singh Panjwar". 24 June 2008. Retrieved 19 June 2009. 
  36. ^ "Khalistan Commando Force search at Beta UM terrorism database". University of Maryland. Retrieved 20 June 2009. 
  37. ^ DATA & GRAPHICS: Population Of The Communications Management Units, page 8/15. Margot Williams and Alyson Hurt, NPR, 3 March 2011, retrieved 4 March 2011 from