Dharamshala: The leader of banned organization Sikhs for Justice has been named as the main accused in connection with the appearance of ‘Khalistan’ banners and graffiti on the walls of Himachal Pradesh Assembly in Dharamshala yesterday.
Gurpatwant Singh Pannun has been charged under the stringent anti-terror law Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. His organisation, Sikhs for Justice, was banned by the center in 2019 for anti-India activities.
Himachal Police have stepped up security in the state after Sikhs for Justice gave a call for holding a ‘Khalistan’ referendum on June 6. Inter-state borders have been sealed and security stepped at key government buildings.
” Keeping in view the incidents of Khalistani in the States and also incident of tying a Khalistani banner took place in Una district on 11.04.2022 and recent incident of hoisting banners & graffiti of Khalistan on the outer boundary of Vidhan Sabha in Dharamshala as well As the threat posed by Sikhs for Justice (SJF) regarding the announcement of 6th June, 2022 as voting date for Khalistan Referendum in Himachal Pradesh, the DGP-HP has issued directions to the field formations to remain on high alert from today,” an order issued by state police chief Sanjay Kundu said.
The order added that senior police officers have been instructed to keep a close watch on possible hideouts of members of the banned outfit, including hotels. They have also been directed to keep bomb disposal squads and special units on standby for any emergency situation.
Officers have been asked to sensitise security personnel guarding all key buildings so that they inform police if they spot anything suspicious.
Following the appearance of the Khalistan banners and graffiti, Chief Minister Jairam Thakur had ordered an investigation.
An intelligence alert issued on April 26 had warned of such an incident, sources said. The alert claimed that chief of Sikhs for Justice, Gurupatwant Singh Pannu, had issued a letter to the Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister, stating 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 had agitated the banned outfit, it is learned.
“I condemn the cowardly incident of raising Khalistan flags at the gate of Dharamshala Assembly Complex in the dark of night. Only winter session is held here, so there is a need for more security arrangements only during that time,” Chief Minister Thakur tweeted in Hindi this morning.
“Taking advantage of this, this cowardly incident has been 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 dark of night,” a second tweet read.