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Peace, Protest and Pakistan

What happened on 26th January on the ramparts of Lal Quila can never be forgotten and is embarked on the consciousness of every Indian. The agitation of farmers for scrapping of three farm laws was used as a launchpad for unleashing the anti- India agenda. The support and funding of this new “anti-India” is not limited to the Indian borders and has its roots across the globe. Many secessionist organizations, demanding Khalistan, have been blamed by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) for giving the violent angle to the protest and for “on-ground campaign and propaganda against Government of India”. The organizations blamed by NIA include Sikh for Justice (SFJ), Babbar Khalsa International and others. 

Sikh for Justice is a pro-khalistani secessionist group with its headquarter in New York, USA. SFJ was founded and is currently headed by Gurpatwant Singh Pannu, who did his LLB from Panjab University and is currently practicing Law in USA. Online activities of Pannu spiked during the farmer protest in India and was seen instigating protestors to demand for a separate land for Sikhs by means of series of youtube ads. It is out now in open that SFJ website is being managed out of Karachi, Pakistan. Even the personal website of Gurpatwant Singh Pannu is also directly linked to Pakistani base website These websites share the same server as well as are hosted through a Florida based website Pannu also reached out to Pakistan and China to support him on his misadventures of fuelling separatist movement in Punjab.  Kartarpur corridor which is a visa free corridor to visit Gurudwara Darbar Sahib by Indian pilgrimage in Pakistan is actively being used by SFJ to promote khalistani agenda. The pilgrims were requested to attend various workshops and symposiums organized by SFJ on ‘Referendum 2020’.  The facebook page of “Refrendum 2020” which was used to promote the agenda was created by an ISI agent who used the alias name ‘Fateh Singh’. 

 Time and again the current chief minister of Punjab Capt Amrinder Singh has accused, that SFJ “had unleashed a wave of terror in Punjab in recent years” and has blamed that the organization is getting active support from ISI. Punjab cooperation and jails minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhaw onbeing asked about Pannu said, “Traitors have no religion and Pannu talks about Khalistan.” The takers of Khalistani movement in India are very less but it has gained acceptance in many other countries such as Canada, UK and USA with an active support from Pakistan. 

A report in 2018 by Indian Intelligence agency suggest that Pakistan is using its diplomatic missions in London to “fund and foment” anti-India activities. A colonel rank level officer is deployed as an advisor in Pakistan diplomatic mission and is responsible for reuniting various factions of pro-khalistani groups operating in various locations in Europe. The interest of Pakistan in funding Khalistani secessionist is not sudden rather it is a well planned corroborated effort to “bleed India by thousands cut”. As per the report published by Canadian Think Tank Macdonald-Laurier Institute, the aim of carving out Khalistan from India is admitted none less than by the then Prime Minister of Pakistan Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. In 1973 Bhutto said that they will carve out a piece of India to avenge 1971 war. “Pakistan will also have a Bangladesh carved out of India,” Bhutto promised to a group of journalists, “except it will be on Pakistan’s border.”

Formation of Khalistan will serve two purpose for Pakistan. One it will create a strategic “buffer zone” at the border between India and Pakistan in case of a war. Second it will “end India’s land access to Kashmir” from the north. The fuelling of these secessionist group by Pakistan is to take revenge of its humiliating defeat in conventional and non-conventional wars that it has fought against the Indian state. The thriving democracy of India is a challenge not only for Pakistan but also for its new found master i.e. China.

These are testing times for us, while peaceful protests are lifeline of an active and thriving democracy but when the vested interests starts taking over the democratic rights and steer them towards a hateful, vengeful and violent path against the state we must tackle those forces. We must stand tall in defending the sovereignty, Unity and Integrity of this country. 

The writer is Assistant Professor at Special Centre for National Security Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University.

Dr Gaurav Tyagi

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