Citing intelligence reports that Khalistani outfits can foment trouble in Punjab, Chief Minister Amarinder Singh wrote to Union Home Minister Amit Shah earlier this week seeking deployment of five companies of central security forces in the border state. In his letter, Amarinder has stated about intelligence inputs suggesting that radical Sikh organisations in foreign countries, like the banned Sikhs for Justice (SFJ), have links with militants in Jammu and Kashmir, and they could create trouble in Punjab, especially in view of their call for Referendum 2020.
The Chief Minister has also taken up Punjab’s security concerns with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
What is the threat to Punjab?
The CM has sought central security for major cities, especially those with active Hindu organisations. These include Amritsar, Jalandhar, Ludhiana, Patiala, Moga and Mohali.
In the last year and a half, the Punjab Police have made over 100 arrests and busted 24 modules of Khalistani terrorists wanting to create trouble in the state.
What is Referendum 2020
SFJ, formed in 2007, is a US-based group seeking a separate homeland for Sikhs — a “Khalistan” in Punjab. The secessionist campaign, called ‘Referendum 2020’, seeks to “liberate Punjab from Indian occupation”. Punjab Police have said SFJ and ‘Referendum 2020′ are supported by Pakistan.
SFJ has announced to hold polling for referendum in November 2020, which it plans to hold in Punjab along with major cities of North America, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Kenya and the Middle Eastern countries.
But isn’t deployment of central forces expensive?
The deployment of central forces in the state has been a contentious issue given that the state has to bear the costs. With each company costing Rs 1.5 crore per month, it would mean an annual burden of Rs 90 crore on Punjab.
During the decade of militancy between 1984 and 1994, the Centre had loaned Punjab Rs 5,800 crore to combat insurgency and militancy — a special loan still being repaid by the state. Previous SAD-BJP governments had repeatedly complained of the burden of the debt, and urged the Centre to exempt Punjab from paying for security agencies as terrorism was not just a threat to the state but entire country.
However — Punjab has faced two terror attacks in recent years. The state feels it is better to spend money rather than being a sitting duck.