Father: Kulwant Singh Khukrana
Age: 35 Years
Death Date: 15/06/2023
|Known for||Being the mentor of the radical Indian pro-Khalistan separatist Amritpal Singh|
|Physical Stats & More|
|Height (approx.)||in centimeters- 173 cm
in meters- 1.73 m
in feet & inches- 5’ 8”
|Eye Colour||Dark Brown|
|Associated With||Khalsa Television (KTV)|
|Party||Shiromani Akali Dal (Mann)|
|Date of Birth||Year, 1988|
|Age (at the time of death)||35 Years|
|Birthplace||Rode village of Moga district in Punjab Province, British India (now in Punjab, India)|
|Date of Death||15 June 2023|
|Place of Death||Sandwell Hospital in Birmingham, UK|
|Death Cause||Various media sources claimed that he died of food poisoning, while others claimed he succumbed to blood cancer. The Indian Express|
|Nationality||UK-based pro-Khalistani activist|
|School||Attended a model school governed by Arya Samaj|
|Religion/Religious Views||Khanda followed Sikhism.
Khanda's pro-Khalistan Beliefs and Advocacy
Khanda's beliefs align with those of the pro-Khalistan movement. He often expressed his opinions on separatism in interviews. Khanda was a staunch advocate of establishing a 'Sikh rule' in India and aimed to promote his vision to the youth of the Sikh community.
|Controversies||• Apprehended for Vandalism at Indian High Commission in London: Avtar Singh Khanda was apprehended on 21 March 2023 for his suspected involvement in vandalism of the Indian High Commission in London. The incident took place on 19 March 2023, when Pro-Khalistan supporters tried to remove the national flag of India from the top of the Indian High Commission while protesting against the Punjab Police's crackdown on Amritpal Singh and his followers. The protesters were heard chanting slogans in support of 'Khalistan Zindabad.' During the protest, a person tried to pull down the Indian flag but was stopped by security personnel. The individual responsible for the attempted vandalism was later identified as Avtar Singh Khanda.
• Linked to Radicalisation Training: An Indian report on Khalistani activities was prepared for British authorities in 2015 in which Khanda was a person of interest. The report raised concerns about Khalistani groups conducting indoctrination sessions and practical bomb-making demonstrations at some gurudwaras in the United Kingdom to radicalize Sikh youth. According to Intelligence reports, Khanda was planning to organize training courses for Sikh youth that included instructions on assembling Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) using locally available chemicals. As per sources, similar courses were conducted at Guru Nanak Gurdwara in Birmingham in December 2014 and at Gurdwara Singh Sabha in Glasgow in January 2015. The Economic Times
|Relationships & More|
|Marital Status||Not known|
|Parents||Father- Kulwant Singh Khukrana (terrorist; died in a police encounter in 1991)|
|Siblings||He had a younger sister.|
Some Lesser Known Facts About Avtar Singh Khanda
- Avtar Singh Khanda was a UK-based activist and journalist who wielded considerable influence as the vice president of the youth wing of Shiromani Akali Dal (Mann). In 2023, he was clouded in controversy for his suspected involvement in the vandalism of the High Commission of India in London during a protest organized by pro-Khalistan supporters in response to the Punjab Police’s crackdown on Amritpal Singh, the leader of Waris Punjab De. Khanda’s connection to the situation is believed to extend beyond his alleged participation in the vandalism; he was also suspected of serving as Amritpal Singh’s mentor.
- The roots of Avtar Singh can be traced back to the household of Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, the infamous Indian militant. In an interview, Avtar revealed the constant police raids at their home in search of his father, Kulwant Singh Khukrana, who was on run, left Avtar’s family without a place to stay. Bhindranwale, however, offered them shelter in his house, where Avtar Singh’s birth took place. Later, the family kept shifting to various locations in the country like Patiala, Ludhiana, and Moga due to his father’s reputation as a separatist in India.
- On 3 March 1991, his father, Kulwant Singh Khukrana, was killed in a police encounter during the anti-Sikh riots after Indira Gandhi’s assassination in 1984. Khanda’s uncle, Balwant Singh Khukrana, also died during anti-Sikh riots. Following Khukrana’s death, Khanda, along with his mother and sister, was arrested by the police on 1 April 1991 at 5 am for questioning.
- During his school days, Khanda made a conscious decision to avoid morning assemblies. In an interview, he shared that he held a strong opposition towards the nation and its ideals. According to him, singing the national anthem of India as a Sikh was against the Sikh community’s principles. Therefore, he chose to abstain from attending morning assemblies and pay the fine to the teachers for the same to avoid participating in something he did not believe in.
- While talking about his childhood memories, in an interview, Khanda shared that his classmates would often call him the son of a terrorist. Khanda further said that his mother had initially told him that his father, Kulwant Singh Khukrana, was living overseas and would return soon, but in fifth grade, he discovered the truth through an old newspaper at home.
- According to Khanda, the 1984 Sikh Massacre was a calculated assault on the Sikh community. In an interview, he further alleged that the Indian government had been planning the massacre since the country gained independence in 1947.
- Khanda was known to have strong connections with the Khalistani nationalist Paramjit Singh Pamma, who has ties with the terrorist organization Babbar Khalsa International. It is believed that Khanda played a significant role in the planning and execution of the assassination of former Punjab Chief Minister Beant Singh, alongside Jagtar Singh Tara.
- Some sources claimed that Avtar Singh Khanda mentored Amritpal Singh while the latter was residing in Dubai; however, according to Avtar, he had never met Amritpal Singh but had maintained contact with him for a long period of time.
- Apart from being an activist, Avtar worked as a presenter for Khalsa Television Ltd. media house for the shows ‘Shera Di Kaum’ and ‘Itihaas’ on the channel Khalsa Television (KTV), also known as KTV Global. Khalsa Television Limited surrendered its UK broadcasting license on 21 June 2022 following an investigation by the Office of Communications (Ofcom), which found that the show ‘Prime Time’ on the channel breached broadcasting rules by promoting separatist propaganda that encouraged violence. The Indian Express
- According to Indian intelligence agencies, Khanda is linked to Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).
- Avtar Singh Khanda often voiced his opposition to the Indian government and its officials on social media. He once shared a picture on his social media handle in which he was spotted chocking former Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi‘s statue at a museum.
- In March 2023, he was spotted at various pro-Khalistan protests held in the United Kingdom.