Centre eyes retired officers who dealt with Punjab militancy to thwart ISI's Khalistani designs

NEW DELHI: A few months after the Khalistani movement reached the Red Fort in Delhi during the farmers protest on January 26, the Central government has decided to engage retired police officers who dealt with the Punjab militancy in the 1980s.

Further, the Punjab Police has also decided to recruit specialised de-radicalisation counsellors in the backdrop of radicalisation of youth for pro-Khalistan activities through social media.

“The government has stated that pro-Khalistani group, Sikhs for Justice (SFJ) has intensified its efforts to meddle into the ongoing farmers’ protest and incites farmer,” said a government source.

The militancy in Punjab had abated in the 1990s. But Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) has now revived its covert plan of encouraging a separatist movement among the Sikhs for an independent state to be called Khalistan.

“During the protests by farmers, the ISI is trying to rekindle the dormant feeling of anger of Operation Blue Star of June 1984 and the anti-Sikh riots in Delhi in the aftermath of then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s assassination,” the source said.

Farmers launched their protest against the Centre and its three new agriculture laws on November 26 last year, when thousands of them — mainly from Punjab and Haryana — marched towards the national capital demanding a complete repeal of the legislations, as part of a “Dilli Chalo” campaign.

The three laws opposed by farmers are the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020, the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020, and the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020.

Sensing a window of opportunity, the ISI is making efforts to revive the Khalistani movement in India.

Without any base in Punjab, Khalistani separatists in countries such as Canada, the UK, Germany and the US are making attempts to radicalise youngsters in the state through social media platforms and fake news.

The ISI has activated the fringe groups for carrying out a systematic radicalisation programme.

Fringe groups such as Babbar Khalsa International (BKI), Khalistan Zindabad Force (KZF), Khalistan Tiger Force (KTF), Khalistan Commando Force (KCF), SFJ and the International Sikh Youth Federation (ISYF) are getting support from the ISI and sympathisers in Canada, the UK, Germany and the US.



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