3,988 individuals in Punjab identified for radical activities; 220 received money from SFJ

Updated on Dec 09, 2022 05:07 PM IST

Of these 3,988 , 993 were directly taken under Punjab police’s deradicalisation scheme for counseling and 207 have been brought back into the mainstream, the data shows.

The analysis by Punjab police further showed that 45% of the radicalized persons had studied up to 10th standard, 36% up to 12th standard
The analysis by Punjab police further showed that 45% of the radicalized persons had studied up to 10th standard, 36% up to 12th standard
ByNeeraj Chauhan

The Punjab police identified 3,988 individuals till 2021, for their radical activities on social media as part of its strategy to counter growing radicalization of people by Khalistani groups as well as a Pakistan backed terror-smugglers-gangsters nexus in the state, according to details shared by counterterrorism officials.

Of these 3,988 , 993 were directly taken under Punjab police’s deradicalisation scheme for counselling and 207 have been brought back into the mainstream, the data shows.

The data is significant because it bears out the theory that Khalistani groups, mostly from outside India, have increased efforts to radicalize young people.

Mumbai based internal security expert Sameer Patil said: “Overseas pro-Khalistani elements have exploited many issues like the 1984 riots, and Punjab’s agricultural crisis to push their agenda and radicalize vulnerable Sikh youth in Punjab. To push their narrative, state-based organisations like Damdami Taksal have glorified the Sikh militants as ‘martyrs’ by regularly observing their death anniversaries and bestowing upon their families the siropa. The lack of economic opportunities in the state and political patronage of course has also acted as enablers of this radicalization process.”

The analysis by Punjab police further showed that 45% of the radicalized persons had studied up to 10th standard, 36% up to 12th standard. Another 16% were diploma/degree holders and 3% were illiterate. The age-group of the radicalized people was 16-25 years (27.4%), 26-35 years (39.3%) and 36 years and above (33.3%).

The data was shared by Punjab police officers during the Director General/Inspector General (DG/IG) conference 2021 of the Intelligence Bureau. HT has reviewed a copy of the document.

Punjab police officials declined comment on the matter.

Punjab police found that 32% radicalized individuals identified by it were holding down jobs such as technicians, drivers, mechanics; 25% were farmers; 10% were labourers; 13% had salaried jobs; 10% were religious preachers; and 4% were government employees.

Punjab police also identified around 220 people/families for receiving financial assistance from Sikhs for Justice (SFK), a banned outfit run by US based Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, who is wanted for spearheading a campaign under the banner of “Referendum 2020” for a separate Khalistani state and radicalizing young people in Punjab, according to the analysis.

Investigations revealed that 178 individuals received 7.19 lakh from Canada based SFJ activists. Details of at least 225 individuals operating from states other than Punjab, who are suspected to be associated with SFJ, have already been shared with the Subsidiary Intelligence Bureau (SIB), the analysis adds.Subsequently, Look out Circulars (LoC) have been opened against 18 individuals who are indulging in radical activities whilebased abroad.

Punjab police have also identified 28 individuals serving in different capacities in the state government, including departments which deal with the national security. Their details have been shared with the concerned agencies for suitable action.

Kanwardeep Kaur, an IPS officer from Punjab, has written in her analysis that Sikhs for Justice (SFJ), taking advantage of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020-21 and the farmers’ agitation in 2020 and 2021, “is regularly trying to allure the youth or poor families of Punjab by announcing financial help to them”. “They basic agenda behind this is to get their documents for Referendum-2020 voter registration campaign”, she added.

“Initially, Sikhs for Justice (SFJ) started its Referendum 2020 propaganda by launching a website and by creating a Facebook page on its name SFJ. After that, it has been launching and creating websites, Facebook pages, YouTube channels and Twitter handles on different names for propagating its radical agenda,” Kaur wrote in the analysis, adding that police has so far identified 142 websites and more than 100 Facebook pages, Facebook accounts, Twitter handles and YouTube channels being operated by SFJ.

In February this year, the I&B ministry had banned some SFJ channels.

Writing about other counter-terrorism challenges in Punjab, Amit Prasad, additional director general of police (ADGP) Counter Intelligence (Punjab),said: “Since 2015, there have been definite attempts by Pakistan ISI and militant/radical Sikh organizations/elements based abroad to revive terrorism in Punjab, which borders both Pakistan and J&K. There has been a continuous flow of inputs, shared by central intelligence agencies that continues to indicate terrorist action in Punjab and, therefore, the security situation in the state remains extremely fragile and delicate.”

He also wrote about the gangster-terrorist nexus in the state.

“A new phenomenon has been noticed since 2015 onwards in Punjab, where there seems to be clear linkage between gangsters and terrorists. It has been noticed that foreign based Pro Khalistan elements are trying to enlist gangsters/radical youth as foot soldiers. It has been observed that hardliners based in Pakistan, USA, Canada, Hong Kong, UAE, France, Germany and other countries are coordinating and facilitating commission of crimes though gangsters in Punjab and acting as control rooms.”

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