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'Khalistan' Referendum Call: Himachal Pradesh on high alert, borders sealed

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New Delhi, May 08: Himachal Pradesh on high alert after Khalistan flags were found tied on the main gate and slogans scrawled on the walls of the Himachal Pradesh Legislative Assembly complex on Sunday.

Himachal Pradesh

The flags, which were removed by the administration, were put up on the outer side of the gate number one of the assembly complex.

Amid some pro-Khalistan activities in parts of Himachal and other neighbouring states and the announcement of June 6 as Khalistan "referendum day", the state police chief also ordered the "sealing" of the border and beefing up state-wide security at sensitive and crowded places.

The state border has been "sealed" to regulate movements of suspicious elements across it and keeping a strict vigil there, the HP police said said.

Himachal Pradesh Director General of Police Sanjay Kundu said Pannun has been booked as the main accused under section 13 of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act and sections 153 A and 153 B of the India Penal Code, besides section 3 of the HP Open Places (Prevention of Disfigurement) Act, 1985.

While section 13 of the UAPA pertains to the offence of inciting or abetting terror acts, sections 153 A and 153 B of the IPC deal with the offences of promoting communal or sectarian divides and animosity.

Condemning the incident, Chief Minister Thakur said the culprits will be caught soon.

"I condemn the cowardly incident of raising Khalistan flags at the gate of Dharamshala Assembly Complex in the dark of night. Only the winter session of the assembly is held there, and hence require tighter security arrangements during that time only," he tweeted. "Taking advantage of this, the cowardly incident was carried out, but the government will not tolerate it. Wherever the culprits are, they will be caught soon.

Strict action will be taken against the perpetrators of this incident," Thakur said. SDM, Dharamshala, Shilpi Beakta said, "It is an alert call for us." "We received an information this morning around 7.30am. We have removed the flags and walls have been painted again. We are inquiring about the matter and are going to register a case under relevant sections of Himachal Pradesh Open Places (Prevention of Disfigurement Act), 1985."

The rest of the details can be shared after investigation, she added.

Meanwhile, the AAP slammed the BJP, asking how will its government save the people of the country when it failed in ensuring national security. Taking to twitter, Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said that the putting up of the Khalistan flags outside the gate of Himachal assembly building in Dharamshala was a "complete" failure of the BJP government in dealing with the matter pertaining to national security and keeping the respect of the people of the hill state.

"The government which cannot save the Legislative Assembly, how will it save the people. This is a matter of Himachal's respect, security of the country. The BJP government has completely failed," Sisodia said in his tweet. Former Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh also condemned the incident and sought strict action against those involved in it.

He claimed that "fringe elements" were trying to disturb peace and brotherhood in the country by such acts. "Strongly condemn the act of putting up Khalistan flags at the gate of Himachal Pradesh Vidhan Sabha. These are acts of fringe elements who are trying to disturb the peace and brotherhood of our country, which will not be tolerated. "Urge the Himachal Pradesh CMO to take strict action against the perpetrators," Singh said in a tweet.

The Congress national secretary Sudhir Sharma also termed the incident as unfortunate. "It is unfortunate that the flag of Khalistan at the entrance of the Dharamshala assembly and slogans are written on the walls, while the non-working of CCTV and the absence of security personnel raises question marks on the administration and security agencies. We, the people of Himachal, will give our lives for the integrity of the country," he tweeted.

Meanwhile, Anti-Terrorist Front of India national president Viresh Shandilya demanded that a sedition case should be registered against the so-called Khalistan supporters who put up Khalistan flags on the assembly gate. "Himachal Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur must order to register a case of deshdroh (sedition) against the so-called Khalistan supporters who put up Khalistan flags outside Dharamsala assembly complex and wrote Khalistan on the walls," Shandilya said in a press release.

Local MLA Vishal Nehria termed the incident disgusting and an act of cowardice carried out in the darkness of night. "We, the Himachalis, and the Indians are not afraid of any threats from the supporters of so-called Khalistan," the MLA said.

with PTI inputs

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