New Delhi: In a significant decision, the Central government has removed from its 'blacklist' the names of 142 wanted terrorists and their associates, including the heads of various Sikh extremist groups.
The wanted persons whose names have been deleted are believed to be currently based in countries like Pakistan, the US, Canada, Norway, France and Germany, and the government's step will enable them to move freely around the world and even return home.
The names have been deleted in two phases after a review of 169 cases in consultation with the Punjab Government and security agencies. While 25 names were deleted in August last year, 117 names were deleted last month, according to the Home Ministry.
Among those removed from the blacklist by the Union Home Ministry are Lakhbir Singh Rode, nephew of dreaded slain terrorist Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale and chief of International Sikh Youth Federation (ISYF).
The list also includes names like Ranjit Singh alias Neeta, a native of Jammu and Kashmir who heads Khalistan Zindabad Force, Wadhawa Singh, chief of Babbar Khalsa International (BKI) and Paramjit Singh Panjwar, chief of Khalistan Commando Force (KCF).
Ripudaman Singh Malik, an activist of Babbar Khalsa who is currently based in British Columbia, was accused of having assisted in funding the 1985 Kanishka plane bombing.
The Home Ministry decision follows the Delhi High Court order to it on February 9 to take a decision on a petition that pleaded that the list of 169 Sikhs should be reviewed as it has led to "unnecessary harassment" to various individuals at different airports and embassies across the world due to
non-renewal of their passports by the Indian government.
Delhi Sikh Gurudwara Management Committee (DSGMC) President Paramjit Singh Sarna has welcomed the decision.
He expressed gratitude to Congress President Sonia Gandhi for the development which he said had "raised a silver line in the hearts of numerous other blacklisted NRI Sikhs" that with his efforts their names would also be deleted soon.