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Himachal seals borders after Khalistani flags found at assembly; FIR lodged

Written by Sharangee Dutta | Edited by Poulomi Ghosh, New Delhi
May 08, 2022 11:00 PM IST

Himachal Pradesh chief minister has called the incident “cowardly” and said a probe will be carried out into the matter. He added that strict action will be taken against culprits.

In a statement on Sunday, police said that directions have been given to seal all interstate borders or barriers of Himachal Pradesh as well as “keep vigil at the places of probable hideouts” after Khalistani flags were found on the main gate and boundary wall of the state assembly earlier in the day.

Khalistan flags were found tied on the main gate and slogans scrawled on the walls of the Himachal Pradesh legislative assembly complex at Dharamshala in Kangra district, Himachal Pradesh, on Sunday, May 8, 2022. (HT Photo)(HT_PRINT)

“ADGP-CID, IG/DIG Ranges and District SPs have been directed to seal all interstate borders or barriers," the statement read.

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Furthermore, a First Information Report (FIR) has been lodged under sections 153-A, 153-B of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and section 3 of Himachal Pradesh Open Places (Prevention of Disfigurement) Act, 1985, pertaining to the incident.

Police said that Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, general counsel to Sikhs for Justice (SFJ), has been identified as the main accused in the case.

Section 13 of Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) has been added to the FIR.

Reports of the flags hoisted emerged earlier in the day after which Himachal Pradesh chief minister Jairam Thakur took to Twitter to call the incident “cowardly”. Saying that it will not be tolerated, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader wrote in a series of tweets - written in Hindi, that the incident will be “investigated quickly and strict action will be taken against the culprits”.

“I would like to tell those people that if you have the courage, then come out in the light of day, not in the dark of night,” Thakur added.

He reiterated his warning while speaking to reporters later, with the chief minister saying they have been observing that “some powers” are behind such incidents. “They will not be successful or spared,” he was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.

Superintendent of police Kangra Kaushal Sharma said that the incident might have occurred late Saturday night or early Sunday morning. He added that it could have been “an act of some tourists from Punjab”.

The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) that recently formed government in Punjab has slammed the BJP-led regime in Himachal for this incident. Earlier in the day, AAP leader and Delhi deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia took to Twitter to say that the BJP government in Himachal has “completely failed”.

The incident comes close on the heels after Pannun called for hoisting the Khalistani flag in Himachal Pradesh's capital Shimla. Last week, the Anti-Terrorist Front of India burnt the Khalistani flag outside the deputy commissioner's office and raised slogans against their demands. The group's activists led by its national president Viresh Shandilaya and Himachal Pradesh unit chief Rajkumar Agarwal also raised the tricolour.

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