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Referendum 2020: With no traction in Punjab, here is why Khalistanis could get desperate

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    New Delhi, Aug 6: The Indian security agencies are watching closely a major event that is to take place in London on August 12. This coupled with the fact that the event called Referendum 2020 will be held three days prior to Independence Day, for which a very high alert has already been declared.

    An Intelligence Bureau official tells OneIndia that the event at London has the backing of the ISI. It is a way of announcing on the world stage the return of the Khalistan movement. It is unfortunate that the UK government decided not to ban the event, the officer also said.

    Referendum 2020: With no traction in Punjab, here is why Khalistanis could get desperate

    The revival of Khalistan:

    Over the years every possible attempt has been made by the ISI to revive the Khalistan movement. First and foremost following the clamp down on terrorism in Punjab, a large number of terrorists fled to Pakistan, where they were sheltered, fed and trained. The ISI has been nurturing these persons for over 15 years now and plans to launch them at an appropriate time.

    There have been attempts made to bring in these terrorists into Punjab, but the ISI has faced several setbacks and this is primarily due to the fact that there is no traction on the ground. The passion and sentiment towards the Khalistan movement is not the same as it used to be two decades. The younger generation has moved and could not care less for this issue.

    Officials dealing in Punjab say that the traction is almost nil and hence they are trying to build up a narrative on the world stage.

    For instance, Canada, Italy and the UK have been notorious for sheltering those seeking Khalistan.

    They have been provided platforms to voice their opinion and demand that Punjab be separated from India. The Referendum 2020 event at Trafalgar Square in London on August 12 is one such event aimed at providing a platform and also building a narrative.

    Stirring passions:

    With the narrative on the international scene not getting much traction back in Punjab, the ISI decided that it would be better to stir up passions in the state. It roped in a few pro-Khalistan activists and staged the murder of Hindu leaders in Punjab.

    An NIA officer who probed the case informed that the motive was to create a communal divide in Punjab. When we probed the matter, we found that funds had been channelised into Punjab from Canada, Italy and UK. The funds in turn were used to commit murders of Hindu leaders, propagate the cause and also attempt recruitments. The plot was busted in the nick of time and the plan fell flat yet again, the officer explains.

    An IB official says that there were attempts to rope in the religious leaders in Punjab in a bid to spread the message of Khalistan. They wanted these leaders to influence the youth who visit Gurdwaras, but the attempt was not successful.

    Also Read | Khalistan: Why the "London Declaration for Referendum 2020" is a huge cause for concern

    In addition to this, the police had busted a plot in April. They were planning a mass movement and were inviting people for the same on Facebook, investigations also revealed. During the protest and declaration, the youth had also planned on setting buses and shops on fire. With this they proposed to begin a mass movement and they had fixed the 2020 deadline to declare Punjab as a Khalistan nation.

    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.

    It may be recalled that Punjab Chief Minister, Captain Amarinder Siingh had also raised concerns over the issue. He had raised strong objection to a statement by an Aam Aadmi Party leader on Referendum 2020. In a tweet, the Punjab CM said, "Mr @ArvindKejriwal I strongly condemn the statement of your LOP @SukhpalKhaira supporting Referendum 2020 that aims for Punjab to secede from the Indian Union. Please clarify your stand on this & ask your partymen to act responsibly. Do see what this Referendum stands for."

    Also Read | What is 'Referendum 2020,' the ISI plot, AAP was accused of backing

    Desperation could set in:

    On August 12, a rally would be held in London. It is called the London Declaration for Referendum 2020. The aim is to seek a sovereign state of Khalistan and it is claimed that it would be attended by Sikhs fro UK, Europe and America.

    These persons want the world to see and understand their cause. Many sympathisers have been sheltered in these countries for long and have been allowed to try build an anti-India narrative.

    However as pointed out earlier, such movements can only gain traction, if there is support back at home. These persons with the backing of the ISI would continue to try and build a narrative.

    However Indian agencies point out that if they continue to fail to get the required traction, there is every chance of a desperation setting in. We have sounded a high alert ahead of Independence Day.

    We have concrete intelligence that some Khalistan forces would try ands stage an attack.

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