Unveiling the foundation stone for the cross-border corridor to Guru Nanak’s final resting place at Kartarpur on November 26, Punjab’s chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh gave vent to his anger. While applauding Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan for reciprocating India’s long-pending request to build a corridor to enable visa-free access to Sikh pilgrims who yearn to visit the Sikh shrine located in Pakistan’s Narowal district, the CM was unforgiving of Pakistan’s army and its chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa.
“The Pakistan PM should rein in his army as the ISI, which works under the army, works against us,” Amarinder said warning of befitting reprisals. In his 20-minute speech, the CM cited ISI’s support to terrorists operating on Indian soil, and the killing of Indian soldiers along the LoC in Jammu & Kashmir.
Amarinder’s ire was provoked by the grenade attack on the Nirankari congregation at Adliwal village outside Amritsar on November 18. Investigations by Punjab Police revealed the unmistakable hand of Pakistan’s ISI; perpetrators Avtar Singh and Bikramjit Singh were instructed from Pakistan.
At the foundation ceremony at Dera Baba Nanak in Punjab’s Gurdaspur district, Amarinder reminded his listeners that November 26 also marked the 10th anniversary of the Mumbai terror attacks sponsored by ISI and its cohorts. “I [too] want to go to Kartarpur and visit Nankana Sahib (Guru Nanak’s birthplace in Pakistan) and Panja Sahib gurudwaras again, but I cannot go there as I have to pass through Pakistan, which is killing my people every day,” he said, vowing not to set foot on Pakistani soil until peace is established between India and Pakistan. But there’s very little likelihood of that happening anytime soon.
Consider the following: Since Amarinder took charge in March 2017, the Punjab Police counter-intelligence wing has neutralised 19 different Khalistani terror modules in the state. An unbelievable 83 terrorists have been arrested, and an arsenal of arms and explosives has been seized.
Many of those arrested are newcomers with no previous connect to the Khalistani cause. Several among them have been self-radicalised, feeding off social media.
Painstakingly joining the dots for years, Punjab and central intelligence officials say, the emerging threat comes from a New York-based Sikh advocacy group that calls itself "Sikhs For Justice" (SFJ). Since 2014, the group has been spearheading a worldwide campaign to radicalise Sikh youth.
Security officials cite SFJ’s call for a global referendum in 2020, on the formation of an independent Sikh nation or Khalistan. Led by USA-based Gurpatwant Singh Pannu, SFJ launched "Sikh Referendum 2020" in June 2014. Police officers in Punjab say that the campaign is designed to provoke emotions amid the extreme Sikh fringe that aspires to achieve nationhood for the community.
A virulent social media campaign hosted by SFJ and its associates across 20 countries with sizeable Sikh communities, claims, “more than three million positive votes” in the proposed plebiscite would force India to grant Sikhs freedom. The group has held many conventions to promote its ‘referendum’ in New York, Toronto, and London.
Security officials say, it is now clear that SFJ is being actively supported and funded by the ISI. The ISI connection has pushed linkages between SFJ and Khalistani terrorists in Pakistan and the West. Intelligence officials point to how Pannu and his associates haven’t been shy of flaunting their bonhomie with Khalistanis.
Even as he unveiled the foundation stone along with Vice President Venkaiah Naidu, Amarinder Singh would have been only aware of how Pannu and SFJ were accorded a red carpet reception at the festivities around Guru Nanak’s Birthday at Nankana Sahib only days earlier.
On the day, Indian consulate officials were physically barred from visiting Sikh pilgrims from India, while Pannu and the Khalistanis were given free access. The SFJ was also granted permission to open an office in Lahore to promote Referendum 2020 amid Sikh jathas from India.
Pakistan PM Imran Khan may mean well when he talks about a lasting peace between Pakistan and India, but he remains rather oblivious to the evident doublespeak that afflicts his own government and military establishment.
(Courtesy of Mail Today)