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Panjwar’s killing shows Pakistan no longer a safe-haven for India’s most wanted

Khalistan Commando Force (KCF) chief Paramjit Singh Panjwar has been gunned down in Lahore

Pakistan has dubbed slaying of Khalistan Commando Force (KCF) chief Paramjit Singh Panjwar as ‘routine killing of a Sikh’, but his death is bound to have spooked some of India’s most wanted who have taken refuge across the border.

A nation that once housed global terrorist Osama Bin Laden today has witnessed many killings of terror kingpins wanted by India.

Panjwar was gunned down while on a morning walk outside his house in Lahore on Saturday May 6. Hindustan Times reported that media across Pakistan had described the murder as a regular killing of a Pakistani Sikh called Sardar Singh Malik. It also reported that the operation was being handled by an Army Colonel in the ISI Directorate.

A Khalistani separatist to the core,. Panjwar was designated a terrorist by the Union Home Ministry on July 1, 2020, and has been accused of drug smuggling, dealing with fake Indian currency, and a list of five dastardly crimes including killing 18 students of Thappar Engineering College, Patiala in cold blood, according to the HT report. He was also responsible for trafficking Afghan heroin to the US, UK, Germany, and Canada to raise funds for separatists to target India.

Panjwar’s killing is the latest instance of terror kingpins being targeted outside India. In February this year, Bashir Ahmad Peer, a self-styled commander of the terror outfit Hizbul Mujahideen, was shot dead by unidentified assailants in Pakistan’s Rawalpindi.

This was followed by murder of Syed Khalid Raza, former commander of Pakistan-based terror outfit Al Badr. He too was killed in a similar manner outside his residence in Karachi. Kashmir-born terrorist Aijaz Ahmad Ahanger alias Abu Usman Al-Kashmiri, who had joined the Islamic State (IS), was reportedly killed in Kunar province of Afghanistan. Before this Khalistan Liberation Force leader Harmeet Singh aka Happy PhD was killed in 2020 in Lahore.

Last year, Harwinder Singh Rinda died in a Lahore hospital allegedly of a drug overdose though many say that he is alive and that the news of his death was to mislead the Indian government. Member of the banned Khalistani outfit Babbar Khalsa International (BKI), he was involved in various terror cases and was a wanted terrorist carrying a reward of Rs 10 lakh announced by the National Investigation Agency (NIA).

After Panjwar’s death, three other Khalistani leaders Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale‘s nephew Lakhbir Singh Rode, Wadhawa Singh, and Gajinder Singh are still in Pakistan. Gajinder is accused of hijacking an Indian Airliner to Lahore in 1981 while Rode is chief of the banned International Sikh Youth Federation (ISYF) and along with Panjwar was complicit in the drug smuggling into Indian Punjab.

The murders are being cited  as a telling blow  to the decaying ecosystem of anti-India militants and separatists who had pinned high hopes on Khalistan separatist Amritpal Singh.

The investigations have so far highlighted Amritpal’s financial links to ISI and the investigating agencies believe that he was being handled by ISI operatives only. The massive crackdown has defused the ongoing attempts to orchestrate the revival struggle of Khalistan from abroad.

Speaking to Indianarrative.com a former senior official of MEA said that Pakistan was currently on a ‘use and throw’ policy. “There are no free lunches in Pakistan anymore and as these elimination trends suggest the fugitives no longer impactful or relevant to ISI motives are being shunned. The country’s diminishing repute as a safe asylum will give a major boost to the anti-terror initiative being taken by the Indian government”, said the official.

Also Read: Two mysterious killings in Afghanistan, Pakistan bring a major setback to terrorism in Kashmir