The Punjab police on Thursday filed a case against three USA-based persons, including the Legal Advisor of Sikhs for Justice (SFJ), along with two persons based in India, on charges of sedition, promoting enmity and criminal conspiracy, after Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh ordered a crackdown on the outfit amid complaints by the local people of deliberate attempts to vitiate the state’s atmosphere.
The Chief Minister, who also holds the Home portfolio, has further directed the police to ensure that neither the SJF, nor any other outfit succeeds in whipping up passions in the state, which Pakistan’s ISI could also exploit to its advantage.
Incidentally, SFJ is the same group which has filed a "defamation law suit” against Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh in Canada under the Canadian laws for allegedly accusing the Sikh human rights’ advocacy group of playing into the hands of Inter Service Intelligence (ISI), Pakistan’s national intelligence agency, which has long been accused by the Indian government of spreading terrorism in India. SFJ in April this year, in a "Statement of Claim” filed with Ontario’s Superior Court of Justice against Amarinder claims damages of $1 million and a permanent injunction against him from republishing or facilitating the republication of defamatory statements against the human rights group.
The Chief Minister’s orders came after a series of provocative posters and hoardings came up at more than 40 outdoor sites across the state. Investigations by the police showed that the campaign, titled `Punjab Independence Referendum 2020’, had been managed by the Baba Hanuman Singh Enterprise agency, which was hired for the purpose by New York-based SFJ, through its legal advisor Gurpatwant Singh Pannun.
Besides Pannun, others booked by the police have been identified as Jagdeep Singh @ Baba Jag Singh, originally resident of Fatehgarh Sahib and now based in New York, and Jagjeet Singh originally resident of J&K, aslo now based in New York. The two accused based in India have been identified by the police as Gurpeet Singh, D-39, Phase-V, Industrial Area, Mohali and Harpunit Singh, r/o Nanak Nagar, Jammu (J&K).
All five have been booked for promoting feelings of enmity and disharmony between different groups, and committing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony, through visible representations. Such acts have disturbed and are likely to disturb public tranquility in Punjab, and are further likely to cause fear/alarm, ill-will and a feeling of insecurity among members of different communities/groups residing in the border State of Punjab, the police said in its FIR.
Further investigations are in progress to uncover the various financial and operational linkages between persons based in India and abroad, said the police spokesperson, adding that the SFJ, backed by Khalistani forces, had been actively trying to destabilize Punjab for the past several months.
The Punjab police has, in recent weeks, busted several modules of terrorists linked to Khalistani forces, which had started raising their ugly heads again in an apparent bid to whip up tension in Punjab. Interrogation of these alleged terrorists, arrested from various parts of Punjab, had shown that they were being mentored and armed by Khalistani supporters in Canada, USA and other places, with some also being trained by ISI in neighbouring Pakistan.
The Chief Minister has made it clear that any attempt to create disharmony or to revive terrorism in the state would be nipped in the bud. Punjab and its people have suffered enough at the hands of Khalistani extremists, said Captain Amarinder, adding that his government would nail every single person found involved in any subversive activities.
The Chief Minister has also categorically ruled out any local support for the SFJ campaign, saying external forces were out to whip up passions to further their own vested interests. The people of Punjab wanted peace and his government was committed to providing them a safe and peaceful environment in the state.