Banned SFJ module busted in Punjab; 3 held with secessionist literature
Chandigarh Punjab Police on Friday busted a secessionist module of the banned ‘unlawful association’ Sikhs for Justice (SFJ) with the arrest of three of its members. Police have also recovered lakhs of secessionist pamphlets promoting ‘Referendum 2020’ from their possession during a raid conducted at Rampur village in Khanna. A truck had to be called in to carry all the banned propaganda material.
In July 2019, the Centre had banned the SFJ under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) for its involvement in promoting secession as well as violent militancy in Punjab, specifically the Sikh Referendum 2020. “Their activities were aimed at creating a divide between communities and disturbing the peace and communal harmony in the Punjab,” the Centre had said.
Those arrested on Friday are Gurwinder Singh of Rampur in Khanna; and Jagwinder Singh and Sukhdev Singh, both of Morinda in Ropar. The police have also booked Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, Harpreet Singh, Bikramjeet Singh and Gursahai Makhu, all based in the US, and Jagjeet Singh Mangat of Khanna.
A police spokesman added that they, in the presence of a duty magistrate, conducted raids at Rampur village in Khanna and recovered over 2.8 lakh pamphlets carrying propaganda material related to ‘Referendum 2020’. A printer, spray pump and spray bottles for writing secessionist graffiti on walls, one laptop, three mobile phones and one Honda City car were also recovered.
During preliminary investigation, it has been found that the accused Gurwinder Singh was radicalised and motivated over a YouTube channel, US Media International, being operated by JS Dhaliwal, who introduced him to Pannun.
A police spokesperson added that on Pannun’s instructions, Gurwinder hoisted Khalistani flags on the premises of the government school in Rampur village. Police claimed that Gurwinder had enroled 20-25 persons to promote ‘Referendum 2020’ by distributing pamphlets for different groups in the vicinity of Doraha, Ludhiana. All these persons were paid for their service at the behest of Pannun.
A police spokesperson added that Gurwinder had also written wall graffiti, promoting Sikh Referendum 2020 activities (in English and Punjabi), under bridges and on signboards on the road stretch from Khanna to Singhu Border in Delhi. On August 15 night, he spray painted pro-Sikh Referendum 2020 and anti-Indian slogans.
“For promoting these kinds of secessionist activities, the accused received huge funds from Pannun via human carriers, the hawala route etc,” a police source added.
An FIR has been registered under Sections 124A (sedition) and 120B (criminal conspiracy) and others of the IPC and Sections 17, 18, 20, 40 of the UA(P) Act in SAS Nagar.