Khalistan resurgence is being supported from abroad by countries like the US, the UK and Canada. Hindu temples in the UK, Canada and Australia are being defaced and vandalised to create Hindu-Sikh divide.
|The Author is Former Director General of Information Systems and A Special Forces Veteran, Indian Army|
The storming of Ajnala police station on February 23, 2023 by supporters of Khalistan proponent Amritpal Singh Sandhu, wielding swords, spears and automatic weapons was shocking. Amritpal came into prominence in September 2022 returning to India from Dubai to head the organisation ‘Waris Punjab De’ (WPD) after its previous head ‘Deep Sidhu’ (Sandeep Singh Sidhu) died in a car accident. In Dubai, Amritpal sported cut hair and no beard but in India, he dresses up like Jarnail Singh Bhindrenwale, who he calls a hero, and moves around with an armed escort. Amritpal publicly calls for formation of Khalistan; arguing it is an ideology and none can suppress that sentiment.
In November, 2022, Amritpal was ‘briefly’ placed under house arrest on suspicion of WPD’s involvement in the murder of Shiv Sena politician Sudhir Suri. On December 9 and 13, 2022 Amritpal supporters vandalised a Gurudwara in Biharipura and in Jalandhar respectively. In February 2023, Ajnala police arrested Lovepreet Singh Toofan (Amritpal’s closest associate) after an FIR was registered against Amritpal and six associates on a complaint filed by one Varinder Singh for having been kidnapped and beaten up by them.
Amritpal issued an ultimatum to the police to revoke the case but with no police response, his supporters stormed the police complex on February 23. Several police personnel were injured and police vehicles were damaged. Punjab police later released Toofan after the court ordered his release “based on the police report”. The police station was under control of Amritpal’s supporters for two hours – unprecedented in the history of Punjab.
Amritpal publicly calls for formation of Khalistan; arguing it is an ideology and none can suppress that sentiment
The reason for police inaction was attributed by SSP Satinder Singh to Amritpal’s supporters carrying the Guru Granth Sahib, which is a sic excuse because the supporters storming the police station were in hundreds and certainly action was possible against those not carrying the holy book. Why would terrorists not use the same tactics in future? It showed gross unprofessionalism of the Punjab police who probably were also very-scared seeing AK-47s with the attackers or sympathised with the same ideology?
The irony is that the incident is being treated as routine “law and order” matter, which is a state subject. There are calls to impose Governor’s rule in Punjab and mudslinging among politicians of different political parties but ironically there has been no response from the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) and the National Security Advisor (NSA) which should have been the case looking at the sensitivity of Punjab being a border state. Capture of a police station by an armed mob is clearly a terrorist act which can hardly be brushed under the carpet as ‘law and order’.
One of the fallout of storming of the Ajnala police station was the Punjab Governor calling off the budget presentation in the state assembly. Using Guru Granth Sahib to attack the police station also is unprecedented. This would not be liked by the Sikh community considering possible damage and desecration of the holy book in violent acts, but then radicalisation has no limits for achieving whatever aim.
There has been no response from the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) and the National Security Advisor (NSA) which should have been the case looking at the sensitivity of Punjab being a border state
Punjab has been in the crosshairs of Pakistan’s ISI since past several decades. The induction of drugs, weapons, ammunition, explosives and terrorist acts are part of the plan to destabilise Punjab, which is continuing to date. ISI exploits educational institutions as well to temper youth. Radical teachers in J&K schools preaching children to hate non-Muslims and JNU’s Tukde Tukde Gang are examples. During 2005-2006, children in schools of Punjab were listening to Khalistani propaganda on pods gifted to them. Pakistan fully supports Sikhs For Justice (SFJ) and has institutionalised their link with Chinese intelligence. Opening of the Karatrpur Corridor was to also exploit the ‘knife-in-the-back’ philosophy.
In September 2021, America’s Hudson Institute evaluated 55 interlinked Kashmiri and Khalistani groups operating in the US that were receiving funding, support, and military training from Pakistan; and recommended that activities of Khalistani groups in North America should be investigated. Hudson Institute further said the US has shown reluctance to act on intelligence from India concerning Pakistan-supported Khalistan militancy and this is further compounded by China blocking designation of Pakistan-based terrorists at the UNSC.
Khalistan resurgence is being supported from abroad by countries like the US, the UK and Canada. Hindu temples in the UK, Canada and Australia are being defaced and vandalised to create Hindu-Sikh divide. Canada’s Trudeau has Khalistanis in his government and the UK’s intransigence is because of the large number of Muslims (many Pakistani-origin) in politics and historical British-Pakistan camaraderie.
America’s Hudson Institute evaluated 55 interlinked Kashmiri and Khalistani groups operating in the US that were receiving funding, support, and military training from Pakistan
External efforts to destabilise Punjab (or rather India) are likely to increase because of the war in Ukraine and India not bowing to the Western diktat to condemn Russia for aggression and break/reduce relations with Moscow. Amid all the sweet talk, the US wants India destabilised (preferably destroyed like Ukraine) also because the Indian rupee is going global and in trading with India, multiple countries would be bypassing the US dollar – many already are. That is why even an American Professor of Security Studies like Christine Fair, who normally targets Pakistan, tweeted: “The @SikhAmericanLegalDefenseFund is hiring folks to mobilize Sikh voters. Speak Punjabi? Want to make a difference? Consider applying”.
Before storming Ajnala police station, Amritpal’s supporters staged a protest in the middle of the road at Dhilwan toll plaza in Kapurthala district when they were stopped by police from marching towards Amritsar. Amritpal has been openly preaching establishment of Khalistan through his so-called ‘Amrit Prachar’ not only in Punjab but also neighbouring Haryana which had suffered much violence in the 1980s during the era of Bhindrenwale. The ease with which Amritpal moves around confirms he has some political patronage at the State as well as the Centre level. This is despite the report that Amritpal recently issued a threat to Union Home Minister Amit Shah, saying he will meet the same fate as that of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.
A veteran General Officer writes: “No one dare do anything in India if there is unity of purpose among the Politicians; Centre and State. These people can be sorted out easily, sooner the better. More we delay the fire will spread. When the Governor and CM have no respect and regard for each other how can a border state with past history of terrorism, have peace and development?”