HP: Interstate borders sealed after Khalistan flags found at Assembly
The Himachal Pradesh government has directed the state police department to seal all interstate borders or barriers of the hill state. This came after Khalistani flags were found on the main gate and boundary wall of the Himachal Pradesh Legislative Assembly in Dharamsala on Sunday morning. The Himachal Pradesh Police has also been ordered to "keep vigil at the places of probable hideouts."
- The development also comes after the banned organization, Sikhs For Justice (SFJ), declared that a "Khalistan" referendum will be held in Himachal Pradesh on June 6.
- Moreover, an intelligence report dated April 26 reportedly mentioned the possibility of the Dharamsala incident.
- Earlier, the SFJ allegedly called for the Khalistani flag to be hoisted in Shimla, too, but couldn't do it due to security measures.
In March, the Himachal Pradesh government reportedly prohibited vehicles bearing Bhindranwale and Khalsitani flags, infuriating the Sikhs for Justice organization. The SFJ earlier planned to hoist the Khalistani flag on March 29 but was unable to do so due to tight security, reported India Today.
An FIR has been filed in relation to the Dharamsala incident under various sections of the Indian Penal Code, the Himachal Pradesh Open Places (Prevention of Disfigurement) Act, and the stringent Unlawful Activity (Prevention) Act (UAPA). State bomb disposal teams have also been put on high alert, while state border security has been increased and "intensive" night patrolling by the police has been ordered.
Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Jairam Thakur has ordered an investigation after Khalistani flags and pro-Khalistan graffiti were discovered at the Assembly complex in Dharamsala on Sunday morning. Thakur also stated that he will assess security along the state's borders with Jammu and Kashmir, Ladakh, Uttarakhand, Haryana, and Punjab. The police suspect the involvement of tourists from Punjab in the incident.
Kushal Sharma, Superintendent of Police (SP), Kangra district, said the Dharamsala incident occurred either late on Saturday night or early Sunday morning. Miscreants had reportedly placed five-six Khalistani flags on the Assembly's gate and walls. Meanwhile, Dharamsala's Sub-Divisional Magistrate Shilpi Beakta described the incident as a "wake-up call." "This is like a wake-up call for us to work with more alertness," Beakta told ANI.
Thakur also strongly condemned the incident earlier on Sunday. "I condemn the cowardly act of putting up Khalistan flags at the gate of Dharamsala Assembly Complex. The incident will be probed...strict action will be taken," he tweeted in Hindi. "If you [perpetrators] have the courage, then come out in the light of day, not in the dark of night," he added.
The Dharamsala incident came just days after the Anti-Terrorist Front of India (ATFI) reportedly burned the Khalistani flag outside the deputy commissioner's office last week in Shimla. The ATFI had raised slogans against Khalistan and waved the tricolor as well.
Apart from dams, railway stations, and bus stops in Himachal Pradesh, security has been intensified at important government establishments. Meanwhile, the Aam Aadmi Party fired a salvo at the BJP-led government in Himachal Pradesh. Following the Dharamsala incident, AAP leader and Delhi's Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia tweeted that the BJP government in Himachal has "completely failed."