Deceased pro-Khalistani terrorist Lakhbir Singh Rode's trans-national links from Pakistan to Canada came to the fore on Tuesday as news of his death poured in. He was the nephew of Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale.
Rode, the self-styled chief of the banned Khalistan Liberation Force and International Sikh Youth Federation, died in Pakistan on the night of December 4. He suffered a heart attack on the night of December 1 and was in hospital till he breathed his last, said Jasbir Rode, his brother in Punjab.
The Rode family is spread across Canada and Punjab with Lakhbir in Pakistan. His wife, two sons and daughter are in Canada. His elder son, Bhagat Singh, is learnt to have confirmed the news to his uncle Jasbir. The sons have been in the transport business in Canada running trucks and taxis, said sources.
Jasbir has distanced himself from Lakhbir all these years and does not proscribe to any of the outfits. He has claimed to have no knowledge of his trans-national terror operations. However, the family is organising a prayer ceremony, the location of which isn’t finalised.
Jasbir told THE WEEK that the family is exploring the option of conducting his last rites in Punjab, a proposition that may be tricky given the fact that the family hasn’t visited the country for some time and they have been distancing themselves from the allegations of Lakhbir’s trans-national terror and criminal nexus. These include planning terror strikes, making extortion calls, smuggling weapons and killings by the foot soldiers of the proscribed outfit.
The Punjab police claims Lakhbir was working with Pakistan's ISI to supply weapons and drugs into India and supporting Canada-based gangsters in terror acts including RPG attack at Punjab police intelligence headquarters in Mohali in 2022. The NIA has evidence of Rode being assisted by cross-border smugglers in the past to smuggle weapons into India.
The Punjab police is aware of the plans of his last rites and is keeping a close watch on the situation on the ground in Rode and neighbouring villages in Punjab. Jasbir said the family members will have to weigh in the possibility of setting foot in Punjab.
“They express the desire to have his last rites here but whether they can travel and who can come here will be decided by the family,” he said.
The strained Indo-Canada ties might not allow early travel for the Rode family members. The Punjab police and central agencies also do not want to take any chance lest it triggers law and order problems within the state.
Punjab has been facing the brunt of these trans national syndicates in the last few years which peaked early this year when arrested pro-Khalistani operative Amritpal Singh and his associates used Rode village as one of their base to spread the pro-Khalistani narrative and undertake nefarious activities. While Rode’s family in Punjab claimed not to support Amritpal, the latter drew inspiration from Lakhbir and their roots, said sources.
Investigators found several close entities in the circle of Amritpal allegedly having connections with KLF operatives. The KLF was banned by the Union Home Ministry in 2018 and Lakhbir was designated as an “individual terrorist”.