Labh Singh

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General Labh Singh
Nickname(s) Sukha Sipahi
Born 1952
Village Panjwar, Amritsar, India
Died 12 July 1988
Tanda, Hoshiarpur, Punjab, India
Allegiance Khalistan Commando Force
Years of service 1984–1988
Rank General (self-appointed)
Battles/wars

Operation Blue Star, Khalistan movement (East Punjabi: ਖਾਲਿਸਤਾਨ).

  • Attack on Director-General of the Punjab Police J.F. Ribeiro inside his headquarters.

Sukhdev Singh (1952 – 12 July 1988), best known as Labh Singh and also known as Sukha Sipahi and General Labh Singh, was a former Punjab police officer[1] who took command of the Khalistan Commando Force after its first leader, Manbir Singh Chaheru, was arrested in 1986.[2] [3]

He was an associate of Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale and fought against the Indian Army during Operation Blue Star.[4] He was involved in the attack on the Director-General of the Punjab Police, Julio Francis Ribeiro. He allegedly masterminded[5] what was then India's largest bank robbery,[6] taking almost Rs.60 million ($4.5 million) from the Punjab National Bank, Miller Gunj branch, Ludhiana.[6][7][8] which enabled the Khalistan Commando Force to buy weapons.[9][10]

Early life[edit]

Labh Singh's original name was Sukhdev Singh. He was also known as Sukha Sipahi.[11] He lived in the village of Panjwar, in Tehsil (sub-district) Patti in district Amritsar[12][13][14] and owned 9 acres (36,000 m2) of land.[12][15] He married Davinder Kaur.[16]

Punjab Police service[edit]

After finishing his education at Baba Buddha Sahib College,[17] Labh Singh joined the Punjab Police force[18] in 1971[19] and served the force until he left his job[19] in 1983.[1]

Association with Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale[edit]

Influenced by Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, Labh Singh left the Punjab police in the early 1980s,[19] and joined the Sikh freedom movement.[18]

In May 1984, Labh Singh, Gursewak Singh Babla,[20] Gurinder Singh and Swaranjit Singh were accused of killing Hind Samachar newspaper group editor Ramesh Chander,[21] who was an outspoken critic of Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale[22] and had written that Punjab had "become a slaughterhouse." In a call to an Amritsar news agency, responsibility for the attack in Jullundur by four armed men was claimed by Sikh militant group Deshmesh Regiment. The caller was quoted as saying “Whoever speaks or writes against Saint Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale will be answered with bullets.”[23]

During Operation Blue Star, he fought against the Indian Army with other Sikh militants.[4] He was arrested by the army after the operation.[24]

Association with Khalistan Commando Force[edit]

Jailbreak[edit]

6 people were killed, and more injured, in a violent attack on the District court in Jalandhar, Punjab, India.[25][26][27][28][29][30] Accounts of the attack, reported on 6 April 1986 in the US, differed.[21] According to an unidentified source in Mahmood's "Fighting for Faith and Nation: Dialogues with Sikh Militants", the attack was made by Sikh militant leader Manbir Singh Chaheru and his associates.[31]

"The Courier" of Arizona, US, carried a story attributed to UPI stating that 3 "Sikh terrorists" killed 3 police officers who were taking 3 prisoners to a bathroom, while "16 armed court guards cowered in fear". The report stated that 2 police holding a 4th prisoner were also gunned down, and that "Three other officers, a lawyer, and a bystander were wounded as the Sikhs sprayed the area for 15 minutes." Police said that the guards were too frightened to return fire. This fourth suspect remained in custody. Finally, the Courier article reported that the Sikhs looted "three rifles and a submachine gun" from the dead bodies, and that a 6th officer later succumbed to wounds from the attack.[32]

The "Wilmington Morning Star" carried an AP story, and related that 3 "Sikh extremists" killed 4 police officers inside the District Court complex, killed two officers who "were shot at the courtyard gate as the attackers fled", and wounded 4 other individuals, including a lawyer. The Star identified the freed suspects as Labh Singh, Gurinder Singh, and Swaranjit Singh, who were to appear in court on charges of slaying Ramesh Chander, a Hindu newspaper editor. The Star reported that District Magistrate S.C. Aggarwal said 4 attackers fired over a compound wall from a lane. It further reported that others witnessed the attackers open fire from close range as police led the prisoners to the toilet. The report concluded with District Police Chief Baljit Singh Sandhu's statement that the attackers hard "fired at least 50 rounds" in the attack.[21]

The "Eugene Register-Guardian" reported that District Magistrate S.C. Aggarwal said in a telephone interview that 3 or more attackers opened fire as 4 defendants accused of the May 1984 slaying of Ramesh Chander, were being led into the compound, and that the attackers took 3 rifles from the slain police. [30]

This single incident became a basis of Roberio’s “Bullet for bullet” policy.[33]

KCF leadership[edit]

After KCF's first leader, Manbir Singh Chaheru was arrested and disappeared or died, Labh Singh took over the leadership of Khalistan Commando Force.[1][3]

One unnamed author speculated in "Genesis of terrorism: an analytical study of Punjab terrorists" that Labh Singh "perhaps" maintained his links with Babbar Khalsa International.[11]

Attack on Director General of Punjab Police[edit]

Although account details differ, on 3 October 1986, men identified in the press as Sikh militants in police uniforms attacked Director-General Punjab Police Julio Francis Ribeiro inside his headquarters in the city of Jalandhar, Punjab, India, with automatic weapons.[34] One guard was killed, and Ribeiro, his wife, and four other officers were injured. Ribeiro's wound was minor, but his wife was hospitalized.[35][36][37][38] Khalistan Commando Force later claimed responsibility for this attack.[39] KCF leader Labh Singh allegedly led the attack.[40][41]

Bank robbery[edit]

Labh Singh allegedly masterminded[5] what was at that time the largest bank robbery in Indian history, netting almost 60 million (58 million rupees-US$4.5 million) from Millar Ganj branch of Punjab National Bank, Ludhiana;[5] a part of this stolen money belonged to the Reserve Bank of India, India's central bank.[6][7] It was documented as “Biggest Bank Robbery” under “Curiosities and wonders” in Limca Book of Records.[42] The loot enabled the Khalistan Commando Force to buy sophisticated weapons[9] and AK-47 rifles.[10] Sikh militants often used bank robberies to finance their campaign against the Indian government.[6]

The Chicago Sun-Times reported that "12 to 15 Sikhs dressed as policemen and armed with submachine guns and rifles escaped with nearly $4.5 million in the biggest bank robbery in Indian history." "No one was injured." A Police spokesman described it as "a neat and clean operation".[7]

Khalistan Commando Force members who allegedly participated in the robbery included Harjinder Singh Jinda, Mathra Singh,[43] Paramjit Singh Panjwar,[44] Satnam Singh Bawa,[45] Gurnam Singh Bundala,[46] Sukhdev Singh Sukha, Daljit Singh Bittu,[47][48][49] Gursharan Singh Gamma[47][48] and Pritpal Singh.[50]

Death[edit]

In June 1988, the Panthic committee appointed Labh Singh a high priest,[24] but on 12 July 1988 he was killed[51][52] in an encounter with police near Tanda, Hoshiarpur, Punjab, India.[24][53][54][55]

At that time, he was wanted in relation to the murder of a dozen policemen, newspaper editor Ramesh Chander, and an attempt on the former Punjab Police Chief Julio Francis Ribeiro.[24] Amritsar Police Superintendent Suresh Arora said "We have broken the back of the KCF. Sukhdev Singh was the most dreaded of the terrorists."[24]

The Tribune of India carried a report of a neighbor's statement that, after his death, many of his family emigrated to Canada, though his father-in-law stayed on in Labh Singh's house. The neighbor further stated that the father-in-law committed suicide after police beat him "mercilessly", and that the house then remained deserted for several years, but that finally it has been taken over by his relatives.[18]

Kanwaljit Singh Sultanwind succeeded Labh Singh as leader of the KCF.[14]

The Tribune India reported in July 2006 that a Bhog (Sikh religious ceremony) for Labh Singh was held "in the past few months".[56]

See also[edit]

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Mahmood 1997, p. 155
  2. ^ "India's most-wanted terrorist captured". New Straits Times Foreign News Service. 11 August 1986. Retrieved 23 January 2016. 
  3. ^ a b Atkins, Stephen E. (2004). Encyclopedia of modern worldwide extremists and extremist groups (illustrated ed.). Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 242. ISBN 9780313324857. Retrieved 26 June 2009. 
  4. ^ a b Mahmood 1997, p. 79
  5. ^ a b c Singh, Gurpreet 1996, p. 98 - "Labh Singh masterminded a bank robbery of R. 6 crore from a branch..."
  6. ^ a b c d "Sikh Separatists Masquerade as Police to Stage India's Biggest Bank Robbery". Los Angeles Times. 13 February 1987. Retrieved 23 January 2016. Sikh(bracketed) separatists dressed as police officers looted a bank Thursday and escaped with $4.5 million, the biggest bank heist in Indian history, officials said. Bank robberies have been a major means of financing the Sikh militants' violent campaign for a separate state they call Khalistan. Bank robberies occur almost every week in Punjab. 
  7. ^ a b c "Sikhs rob India bank of $4.5 million". Chicago Sun-Times. 13 February 1987. Retrieved 23 January 2016. 
  8. ^ "SGPC honours kin of Vaidya's assassins". Tribuneindia.com. 9 October 2008. Retrieved 23 January 2016. 
  9. ^ a b Kumar, Ram Narayan (1997). The Sikh unrest and the Indian state: politics, personalities, and historical retrospective. Ajanta Publications,India. p. 445. ISBN 9788120204539. It was only after the big bank robbery at Ludhiana in February 1987 that they could purchase sophisticated weapons; there was only one sten gun in the entire state. 
  10. ^ a b Dhillon, Kirpal (2006). Identity and Survival: Sikh Militancy in India 1978-1993. Pa. Penguin India. ISBN 978-0-14-310036-2. Retrieved 23 January 2016. 
  11. ^ a b Genesis of terrorism: an analytical study of Punjab terrorists. Patriot. 1988. Retrieved 23 January 2016. ...(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. 
  12. ^ a b Taylor & Francis (1991). The Journal of Commonwealth & comparative politics, Volume 29. Frank Cass. Retrieved 23 January 2016. 
  13. ^ Social and political movements by Harish K. Puri, Paramjit S. Judge, Page 391. Books.google.com. 3 September 2008. ISBN 978-81-7033-633-4. Retrieved 23 January 2016. 
  14. ^ a b Walia, Varinder; Puri, Gurbax (9 March 2001). "Normalcy a bliss for Panjwar family". Tribuneindia.com. Retrieved 23 January 2016. 
  15. ^ Singh, Gurpreet 1996, p. 97 - A founder of the KCF, his real name was Sukhdev Singh alias Sukha 'Sipahi'(soldier). A self-styled 'General' of the KCF, thirty-five-year-old Sukhdev Singh belonged to Panjwar village in Amritsar and owned nine acres of land.
  16. ^ "Ajmer Singh's new work engages with 1984 Catastrophe". World Sikh News. Archived from the original on 4 January 2010. Retrieved 23 January 2016. 
  17. ^ "Gursikhs and Inspirational Living". Ektaone.com. Archived from the original on 25 June 2009. Retrieved 23 January 2016. 
  18. ^ a b c Walia, Varinder; Gurbaxpuri (8 March 2001). "Kin of slain Babbar Khalsa chief shift abroad". The Tribune (Tribune News Service). Retrieved 23 January 2016. 
  19. ^ a b c Singh, Gurpreet 1996, p. 97 - "He joined the Punjab Police as a constable in 1971. In the early 1980s he came under the influence of Bhindranwale and resigned from the police force."
  20. ^ Bharadwaj, Ajay (27 August 2004). "Babla's escape revives fear of militant strikes". The Times of India. Retrieved 23 January 2016. 
  21. ^ a b c "Sikhs Kill 6 On Courthouse Steps". Associated Press (Wilmington Morning Star). 6 April 1986. Retrieved 23 January 2016. 
  22. ^ "India editor slain as violence spreads". Chicago Tribune. 13 May 1984. Retrieved 23 January 2016. Rioting Hindus set fire to 15 Sikh shops, a bank a library and 15 buses in the city of Jullundur Saturday after terrorists killed a newspaper editor who wrote that Punjab state has become a slaughterhouse. The editor, Ramesh Chander, was shot by four men with... 
  23. ^ "Murder prompts riot". Wilimington Morning Star. 13 May 1984. Retrieved 23 January 2016. 
  24. ^ a b c d e "Top Sikh extremist shot dead by Indian police". New Straits Times. 13 July 1988. Retrieved 23 January 2016. 
  25. ^ "The World, section 1". Los Angeles Times. 6 April 1986. Retrieved 23 January 2016. Sikh extremists shot their way into a courthouse in the Punjab city of Jullundur, killed six policemen and freed three prisoners accused of killing a Hindu editor, authorities said. 
  26. ^ Chicago Tribune Wires; NEWS (5 April 1986). "SIKH GUNMEN SLAY 6 COPS IN PUNJAB". Chicago Tribune. p. 14. Retrieved 23 January 2016. 
  27. ^ "Sikh terrorist kill policemen in Punjab". The Free-Lance Star. 5 April 1986. Retrieved 23 January 2016. 
  28. ^ "Terrorists kill 6 policemen, free prisoners". Ludington Daily News. 4 April 1986. p. 8. Retrieved 23 January 2016. 
  29. ^ "Sikhs kill 6, free 3 prisoners". The Spokesman-Review and Spokane Chronicle. 6 April 1986. p. A6. 
  30. ^ a b "Sikh extremists kill 6 policemen, free 3 prisoners". Eugene Register-Guard. 6 April 1986. 
  31. ^ Mahmood 1997, p. 168?
  32. ^ "Bloody jailbreak in Punjab leaves three officers dead". The Courier. 5 April 1986. Retrieved 30 September 2009. [dead link]
  33. ^ Gupta, G. V. (7 March 1999). "Book Review:Bullet for Bullet: My Life as a Police Officer:'Bullet-for-bullet is not my baby'". Tribuneindia.com. Retrieved 23 January 2016. 
  34. ^ Belle, G.G. (3 October 1986). "Disguised Sikhs attack compound of police chief". The Free-Lance Star. p. 3. Archived from the original on 13 July 2012. Retrieved 1 October 2009. 
  35. ^ https://news.google.com/newspapers?id=9PEPAAAAIBAJ&sjid=BY0DAAAAIBAJ&pg=4966,638725&dq=ribeiro+sikh
  36. ^ https://news.google.com/newspapers?id=a7ISAAAAIBAJ&sjid=y_kDAAAAIBAJ&pg=2548,967763&dq=ribeiro+sikh
  37. ^ https://news.google.com/newspapers?id=43EQAAAAIBAJ&sjid=YosDAAAAIBAJ&pg=6635,476265&dq=ribeiro+sikh
  38. ^ Tempest, Rone (4 October 1986). "Aide Battling Sikh Terrorism Survives Attack". Los Angeles Times. 
  39. ^ https://news.google.com/newspapers?id=MOIRAAAAIBAJ&sjid=YO8DAAAAIBAJ&pg=5113,1949144&dq=ribeiro+sikh
  40. ^ Walia, Varinder (25 January 2002). "Panjwar village hums with poll activity". Tribuneindia.com. Retrieved 30 September 2009. ...who was responsible for the attack on Mr J.F. Rebeiro, the then DGP... 
  41. ^ The Windsor Star (24 April 2008). "India files complaint over 'martyrs' parade". Canada.com. Archived from the original on 23 January 2016. Retrieved 23 January 2016. One of those featured -- Gen. Labh Singh -- led the assassination attempt on the director-general of Punjab police, Julio Ribeiro, in 1986. 
  42. ^ Limca Book of Records. Bisleri Beverages Ltd. 1999. Retrieved 23 January 2016. 
  43. ^ Asian Recorder, Issue 28. K. K. Thomas at Recorder Press. 1987. Retrieved 23 January 2016. 
  44. ^ "Paramjit Singh Panjwar (Khalistan Commando Force)". Indianexpress.com. 4 December 2008. Retrieved 23 January 2016. 
  45. ^ Asian recorder - Google Books. Books.google.com. 26 August 2008. Retrieved 23 January 2016. 
  46. ^ "Police arrest `dead' terrorist". Indianexpress.com. 12 October 1998. Retrieved 9 August 2009. [dead link]
  47. ^ a b Chaudhry, Amrita (1 October 2006). "Gursharan Singh Gama arrested". cities.expressindia.com. 
  48. ^ a b "Killers of Lalit Maken held" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 13 July 2011. Retrieved 20 September 2009. 
  49. ^ Chaudhry, Amrita (14 September 2005). "Dreaded militant Daljit Singh alias Bittu gets parole for marriage". cities.expressindia.com. Retrieved 30 August 2009. [dead link]
  50. ^ "News & Current Events". Ministry of Truth. Archived from the original on 6 May 2010. Retrieved 23 January 2016. 
  51. ^ Martha Crenshaw, ed. (1 January 1995). Terrorism in Context. Pennsylvania State University Press. p. 399. ISBN 978-0-271-01015-1. Retrieved 30 May 2009. 
  52. ^ Puneet Singh Lamba. "A Timeline of Sikh Religious and Political History". The Sikh Times. Retrieved 23 January 2016. 
  53. ^ Gill, K.P.S. (May 1999). "Endgame In Punjab: 1988-1993". Faultlines. Institute for Conflict Management. 1 (1): 29. Retrieved 25 June 2009. 
  54. ^ "Punjab Backgrounder". Satp.org. Retrieved 23 January 2016. 
  55. ^ Herald Wire Services (13 July 1988). "IN THE WORLD, front section" (FINAL ed.). The Miami Herald. p. 2A. Security forces killed one of India's most wanted Sikh militants Tuesday and said his death was a major blow to the biggest group fighting for an independent Sikh homeland in Punjab state. They said Sukhdev Singh, a self-styled "lieutenant general" of the Khalistan Commando Force, was shot dead when he tried to evade a police patrol in the state's Hoshiarpur district. 
  56. ^ Banerjee, Ajay. "MSP hike rejected as too meagre". tribuneindia.com. Retrieved 23 January 2016. Sources in the Punjab Police said at least six bhog ceremonies had been conducted in the past few months and their growing number had caused worry. These include the bhog to remember “general” Labh Singh of the Khalistan Commando Force 

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Manbir Singh Chaheru
Leader Khalistan Commando Force
1986–1988
Succeeded by
Kanwarjit Singh Sultanwind