India watches closely as ISI backed Sikhs hold Referendum 2020 rally today
New Delhi, Aug 12: India would keep a close watch on an ISI sponsored event, Referendum 2020 set to take place in the United Kingdom today. Indian agencies say that the event taking place at the Trafalgar Square today has not been able to gain traction in India.
India had expressed concerns over the event and had even requested the UK to prevent it from taking place. However the British government refused to stop the event and India had expressed its disappointment over the same.
Over the years there has been an attempt to revive militancy in Punjab and Referendum 2020 is yet another attempt in this direction. The London rally is being organised by a group called Sikhs for Justice and the Chief Minister of Punjab, Captain Amarinder Singh had said that the event had no takers back in Punjab.
He dubbed the proposed rally in London on Sunday by Sikhs for Justice (SFJ) an attempt by a handful of frustrated ISI-backed Sikhs abroad to foment trouble in Punjab and India by raising divisive voices.
The chief minister said he was not at all worried about the "fringe elements" and their rally. "They have been at it for long and have been playing into the hands of the ISI, which has an open agenda to foment trouble in Punjab and India," he told reporters. He added he would not allow anyone to create trouble in Punjab.
"If these elements think they can come and disturb the peace in my country and my state, they are mistaken," he said. Singh said he has asked the state police to deal strictly with any attempt to revive terrorism. He said in the past 15 months of his government, the police have cracked down on several terror modules, seizing arms and narcotics.
He said only a handful of frustrated Sikhs, based in countries like the UK, Canada, the USA and Germany, were backing the campaign, which he said will not last long.
What is Referendum 2020:
Around two months back, the Punjab police had busted a major plot known as Referendum 2020 which was hatched by Khalistani terrorists. Investigations revealed that the referendum was being promoted by some youth from Punjab at the behest of the ISI.
Officials familiar with the probe said that this was an attempt at reviving terrorism in Punjab. The police said that the plan was to get all like-minded persons under one roof and make a major declaration. These persons had also planned on targeting a few IPL matches in Punjab before making the declaration.
The Facebook page 'Referendum 2020' was set up by an ISI agent who went by the alias Fateh Singh, the police also learnt. He had also roped in four youth to popularise the page. The main idea was to get a lot of people under one platform and then create terror before declaring Punjab as a separate nation.
The organisers of the event say that Punjab Referendum 2020 is a campaign to liberate Punjab, currently occupied by India. The campaign aims to gage the will of the Punjabi people with regards to reestablishing Punjab as a nation state. Once we establish consensus on the question of independence, we will then present the case to the United Nations for reestablishing the country of Punjab.
Who is behind Referendum 2020:
On the radar of the Indian agencies is Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, who is a US-resident and also closely associated with the SJF as its legal advisor. He is one of the main persons behind the August 12 event. It may be recalled that he had tried to stall the arrest of Jagtar Singh Tara's extradition from Thailand to India. Tara who is an accused in the murder of former chief minister of Punjab, Beant Singh is a member of the Khalistan Tiger Force, which is declared as a terrorist outfit in India. Officials say that Pannun had even fought the case for Paramjit Singh Pamma, a Khalistan terrorist arrested in Portugal. While Tara was extradited from Thailand, in the case of Pamma, the Portuguese refused.
Indian agencies say that there is a clear ISI hand behind this event. They have been instrumental in fuelling passions in a bid to revive the Khalistan movement. An ISI officer was in fact the one who set up the Referendum 2020 social media page and tried to trigger tensions.