Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh Wednesday welcomed the Centre’s decision to ban the SFJ as an unlawful association, describing it as the first step towards protecting the nation from the “anti-India/secessionist designs of the ISI-backed organisation”.
Amarinder had earlier demanded that the Sikhs for Justice (SFJ) be branded as a terrorist outfit. Reiterating his demand, the CM said, “Though the outfit deserved to be treated as a terrorist organisation, the Government of India had at least taken a long-overdue stand against SFJ, which had unleashed a wave of terror in Punjab in recent years.”
“With this step, the Centre had finally shown its much-needed intent to crack down on the organisation, which was overtly being backed by Pakistan’s ISI in its conspiratorial campaign over ‘Sikh Referendum 2020’, launched in 2014, “ said the Chief Minister.
He, however, asserted that the central government would have to take more proactive measures to aggressively crack down on SFJ and its affiliates in the interest of national security.
“SFJ’s activities go beyond being ‘unlawful’ and posed a major threat to the very existence of our nation, “ he said.
Amarinder said that the SFJ, in recent years, had made blatant attempts to radicalise, fund and motivate some poor and gullible youths of Punjab into committing acts of arson and violence and the outfit had also been making efforts to enlist the support of gangsters and radicals in Punjab and exhorting them to fight for the ‘liberation of Punjab’.
Captain Amarinder came down heavily against those trying to play down the vile threat posed by SFJ, which continues to flex its muscle not just within but also outside India, as manifest in the June 30, 2019, incident.
On the day, UK-based SFJ activists were in the spotlight during the India vs England World Cup cricket match at Edgbaston (Birmingham). They were seen wearing T-shirts of Referendum 2020 and waving the Khalistani Flag at the Cricket match.
The SFJ had also shared a poster on social media just last week urging pro-Khalistani Sikhs to boo the Indian Team during the semi-final match against New-Zealand.
The Chief Minister said these incidents totally negated the ridiculous stand of SAD and its leaders, as evident in the statement of party spokesperson Daljit Singh Cheema that Khalistan was no longer an issue. Pointing to the gravity of the issue, Captain Amarinder urged the Akalis to refrain from playing petty politics over it, and instead to join the government in fighting and eliminating the menace. The Akali leaders seemed to be ignoring the vicious agenda of SFJ, showing how little they care about the interests of Punjab and its people, said the Chief Minister.
Captain Amarinder also exhorted the global community to support India’s efforts to understand and counter the SFJ’s secessionist and violent agenda shrouded behind a supposedly non-violent Referendum campaign.
Any country allowing SFJ to use its soil for destabilising India would also suffer the consequences of such an act as no nation could remain unaffected as a result of supporting terror or violence against another, he added.
The Punjab Police, over the last 3 years, have registered several criminal cases against alleged SFJ leaders/operatives based in various countries and working under the command of SFJ promoters, operating from USA, Canada, UK, Malaysia.
The Chief Minister said the SFJ had even tried to instigate Punjab Police personnel to revolt against the state government. Besides, the outfit had been targeting Sikh Army soldiers through a dedicated social media campaign and instigating them to desert the Army and work for promotion of Referendum-2020 instead, he added.
Amarinder pointed out that recently a strong nexus between SFJ and Kashmiri separatists had come to light, suggesting a wider net that goes beyond Punjab, with serious repercussions for national security.