The Government of India (GOI) on Wednesday banned the pro-Khalistani group The Sikhs for Justice for its anti-national activities in India. US-based The Sikhs for Justice (SFJ) pushes for Sikh Referendum 2020 as part of its separatist agenda. Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh termed the move as the first step towards protecting the nation from “anti-India or secessionist designs” of the ISI-backed organisation.
“SFJ is involved in anti-national and subversive activities in Punjab and elsewhere, intended to disrupt the sovereignty and territorial integrity of India. SFJ is in close touch with the militant outfits and activists, and its supporting violent form of extremism and ….carve out a sovereign Khalistan out of territory of India,” said the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) notification.
The outfit wanted to use Kartarpur Corridor for propagating their secessionist ideology, officials said adding SFJ and its secessionist campaign referendum 2020 are supported by Pakistan. India is likely to raise the issue regarding security and safety of pilgrims during Kartarpur talks with Pakistan on July 14.
The official website of SFJ and referendum 2020 were sharing and sourcing content from Karachi-based website, they said. A number of SFJ activists were also linked with same Pakistani websites and actively involved in anit-India activities in all Social Media platforms like Twitter and Facebook, said Indian officials.
They said there’s no concrete evidence that Pakistan has curbed or banned the group.
A meeting of the Union Cabinet decided to declare SFJ as outlawed under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, home ministry officials said. The group’s primary objective is to establish an “independent and sovereign country” in Punjab. The SFJ openly espouses the cause of Khalistan and in that process challenges the sovereignty and territorial integrity of India, said MHA officials.
The notification also said that SFJ is funding and encouraging and aiding the activities of secession oand supporting many separatist and terrorist groups working against the country. There were occasions and proofs of SFJ’s role in escalating tensions and create anti-India sentiments in Punjab
The Chief Minister said that the Punjab Police, over the last three years, had registered several criminal cases against such youngsters as well as SFJ leaders based in various countries and working under the command of SFJ promoters, operating from US, Canada, UK, Malaysia etc. The recovery of arms and ammunition from them has exposed a major network, spread across various south-eastern, western and even African countries, and using money transfers through hawala channels to finance the violence and illegal activities, he added.
Amarinder Singh further accused the SFJ of even trying to instigate Punjab Police personnel to revolt against the state government, besides issuing threats and intimidating him, the state’s jails minister, and senior police officers of Punjab, including former and present DGPs.
“Besides, the outfit had been targeting Sikh Army soldiers through a dedicated social media campaign and instigating them to desert the Army and work for promotion of Referendum 2020 instead,” he said.
Indian agencies are now monitoring the activities of SFJ’s main leaders like Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, Harmeet Singh, Paramjit Singh Pamma etc. National Investigation Agency (NIA) is tracking down these persons’ activities in the US, UK, Canada, Malaysia and their links with Pakistan spy agency Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).
Amarinder Singh also mentioned the incident wherein some SFJ activists were seen wearing T-shirts of ‘Referendum 2020’ and waving the ‘Khalistani’ flag at the world cup cricket match between India and England at Edgbaston, Birmingham during the ongoing Cricket World Cup.
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