Himachal Pradesh: Khalistan flags found at Dharamsala Assembly's gate
Khalistan flags were reportedly found tied to the entry gate and boundary wall of the Himachal Pradesh Legislative Assembly in Dharamsala on Sunday. Pro-Khalistan messages were also seen on the walls. Kangra district's Deputy Commissioner, Nipun Jindal, confirmed the incident and said the police were reviewing CCTV footage from the surrounding areas to identify the perpetrators. Himachal CM Jairam Thakur strongly condemned the act.
Why does this story matter?
The incident occurred after Sikhs For Justice (SFJ) leader, Gurpatwant Singh Pannu, allegedly called for the Khalistani flag to be hoisted in Shimla. The possibility of such an incident was mentioned, reportedly, in an intelligence report issued on April 26, too. Notably, the Himachal Pradesh Assembly's winter session is held in Dharamsala while the other sessions are conducted at the Assembly complex in Shimla.
If you have courage, come out in daylight: CM
Thakur strongly condemned the incident, which reportedly took place on Saturday night. "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.
Incident comes after ATFI burned Khalistan flag in Shimla
The incident comes 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.
'We will not tolerate it': CM Thakur
On Twitter, CM Thakur also noted that only the winter session is held in the Dharamsala Assembly. So, additional security arrangements are made only during that time, he added. "Taking advantage of this [situation], this cowardly incident has been carried out, but we will not tolerate it," the chief minister said in another tweet.
HP banned vehicles bearing Bhindranwale, Khalistani flags
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.
It could be an act of tourists from Punjab: SP
According to Superintendent of Police (SP), Kangra, Khushal Sharma, the incident occurred late on Saturday night or early Sunday morning. "We have removed the Khalistan flags from the Vidhan Sabha gate. It could be an act of some tourists from Punjab. We are going to register a case," he told ANI. Miscreants had reportedly placed five to six Khalistani flags on the Assembly's gates.
'This is like a wake-up call for us': SDM
Dharamsala's Sub-Divisional Magistrate Shilpi Beakta described the incident as a "wake-up call," adding a case would be filed under the Himachal Pradesh Open Places (Prevention of Disfigurement) Act, 1985. "This is like a wake-up call for us to work with more alertness," Beakta told ANI.