Chandigarh, July 6 (IANS) The Punjab Police on Thursday booked five people, including three based in the US, for sedition and promoting enmity following putting up hoardings in Punjab seeking a referendum on a separate Sikh state Khalistan.
The police filed a case against New York-based organization Sikhs For Justice (SFJ) legal advisor Gurpatwant Singh Pannun and SFJ activists Jagdeep Singh and Jagjeet Singh (all three based in New York), Gurpeet Singh of Mohali and Harpunit Singh of Jammu.
They have been charged with sedition, promoting enmity and criminal conspiracy.
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh also ordered a crackdown on the outfit amid “complaints by people of deliberate attempts to vitiate the state’s atmosphere”, a spokesman for the Chief Minister said on Thursday.
Amarinder Singh directed the police to ensure that neither the SFJ nor any other outfit succeeds in whipping up passions in the state, which Pakistan’s intelligence could exploit to its advantage.
The Chief Minister’s orders came after a series of provocative posters and hoardings came up at more than 40 outdoor sites across the state in recent days.
Investigations by the police showed that the campaign, titled `Punjab Independence Referendum 2020′, had been managed by the Baba Hanuman Singh Enterprise agency, which was hired for the purpose by the SFJ.
“All five have been booked for promoting feelings of enmity and disharmony between different groups and committing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony, through visible representations. Such acts have disturbed and are likely to disturb public tranquility in Punjab, and are further likely to cause fear/alarm, ill-will and a feeling of insecurity among members of different communities/groups,” the Punjab Police said in its FIR.
The spokesman said that further investigations were in progress to uncover the financial and operational linkages between persons based in India and abroad.
“The SFJ, backed by Khalistani forces, had been actively trying to destabilize Punjab for the past several months,” the spokesman added.
“The Punjab Police has, in recent weeks, busted several modules of terrorists linked to Khalistani forces which had started raising their ugly heads again in an apparent bid to whip up tension in Punjab.
“Interrogation of these alleged terrorists, arrested from various parts of Punjab, had shown that they were being mentored and armed by Khalistani supporters in Canada, the US and other places, with some also being trained by ISI in Pakistan,” the spokesman added.
Amarinder Singh made it clear that all those involved in subversive activities in Punjab would be dealt with firmly.