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Prohibited Sikh group leader charged with ‘Khalistan’ flags at Himachal


Gurpatwant Singh Pannun: He was charged under the strict anti-terrorism law.

Dharamshala:

The leader of the banned organization Sikhs for Justice was named as the main culprit in connection with the appearance of ‘Khalistan’ banners and graffiti on the walls of the Himachal Pradesh meeting in Dharamshala yesterday.

Gurpatwant Singh Pannun has been charged under the strict Act on Illegal Activities (Prevention) against terrorism. His organization, Sikhs for Justice, was banned by the center in 2019 due to activities against India.

Himachal police have stepped up security in the state after Sikhs for Justice called for a ‘Khalistan’ referendum on 6 June. Interstate borders were sealed and security at important government buildings sharpened.

“To keep an eye on the incidents of Khalistani elements in neighboring states and also the incident of tying up a Khalistani banner took place on 11.04.2022 in Una district and recent incident of hoisting banners and graffiti from Khalistan on the outer border of Vidhan Sabha in Dharamshala also as the threat posed by Sikhs for Justice (SJF) regarding the announcement of 6 June 2022 as voting date for Khalistan Referendum in Himachal Pradesh, the DGP-HP issued instructions to the field formations to from today onwards to remain on high alert, “an order issued by State Police Chief Sanjay Kundu said.

The order added that senior police officers had been instructed to keep a close eye on possible hiding places of members of the banned outfit, including hotels. They were also instructed to keep bomb disposal groups and special units on standby for any emergency.

Officers were asked to sensitize security personnel guarding all key buildings so that they inform the police if they notice anything suspicious.

Following the appearance of the Khalistan banners and graffiti, Prime Minister Jairam Thakur ordered an investigation.

An intelligence warning issued on April 26 warned of such an incident, sources said. The warning claimed that the head of Sikhs for Justice, Gurupatwant Singh Pannu, had issued a letter to the Himachal Pradesh prime minister saying that a flag of Sikh extremist Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale and ‘Khalistan’ would be hoisted in Shimla , sources said.

Himachal Pradesh’s move to ban vehicles carrying Bhindranwale and Khalistani flags has stirred the banned outfit, it is understood.

“I condemn the cowardly incident of hoisting Khalistan flags in the dark of night at the gate of Dharamshala Assembly Complex. Only winter session is held here, so there is a need for more security arrangements only during that time,” said Prime Minister Thakur tweeted in Hindi this morning.

“To take advantage of this, this cowardly incident was carried out, but we will not tolerate it. This incident will be investigated immediately and strict action will be taken against the culprits. I would like to tell those people that if you have the courage , then come out in the light of day, not in the darkness of night, ”reads a second tweet.

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