There are ominous signs that the anti-India elements may be itching yet again to disturb peace in Punjab. Though a small group of Sikhs based abroad had never ceased making strident noises on social media, there were hardly any visible signs of subversive activity on the ground in the state. However, a couple of incidents in recent days ought to serve as a timely warning against complacency. Unless the newly-elected AAP government acts with urgency to put down the mischievous elements, they would pose a serious challenge to the law and order situation in the border state. In the first such incident, two Khalistani flags were hoisted outside the Himachal Pradesh Vidhan Sabha complex in Dharamshala. Earlier, there were also incidents of a group of people forcibly flying Khalistani flags on vehicles entering Punjab from HP but these were put down with a firm hand by the local police. Two days after the hoisting of the Khalistani flags at the HP Vidhan Sabha complex, the state police arrested a man from Punjab while his accomplice managed to escape.
The second development is potentially far more troubling. In a daring challenge to the established authority, last Monday a rocket-propelled grenade was fired at the Punjab Police’s Intelligence headquarters in Mohali, a township on the outskirts of Chandigarh. Nobody was hurt but there was no denying the threat the development signaled. Sophisticated grenade launchers in the hands of subversives clearly indicated the involvement of the Pakistan-based Khalistanis who enjoy the patronage of the ISI. The use of such sophisticated weapons required training and could not have been the work of an amateur, the police believe. Preliminary investigations indicated the involvement of a Pakistan-based gangster, Harvinder Singh alias Rinda. His network of like-minded people in Punjab is said to be behind the grenade attack in Mohali. Reportedly twenty-odd people suspected to be active in the anti-India campaign were taken into custody after the grenade attack. Some weeks ago, a consignment of explosives was dropped by a drone from Pakistan in the Ferozepur district. It was seized from Rinda’s accomplices four days ago, apparently when they were headed for Telangana to deliver it to their associates. Clearly, the ISI was using the Khalistanis for spreading mayhem in the country.
Meanwhile, the newly-elected AAP government was forced on the defensive following the twin developments, with the rival parties accusing the ruling party of being soft on Khalistanis. Given that Bhagwant Mann, the comedian-turned Chief Minister, has zero administrative experience, and given the earlier accusations of the AAP supping with the pro-Khalistani elements, the onus now is on the Punjab government to crack the case promptly and to ensure that the trouble-makers are put down with a firm hand. Even though the Indo-Pak border has been relatively peaceful in recent months, the ISI can be relied upon to keep the Khalistani pot boiling. Small groups of NRIs in western countries are engaged in anti-India activities with the active connivance of the ISI. It is for the AAP government to dispel the impression in some quarters that it is soft towards them.