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Khalistanis a marginal minority with no political support, says counter-terrorism expert

ANI  |  Asia 

Labelling slain Khalistani terrorist Harmeet Singh alias Happy PhD as a martyr is an exercise conducted at the behest of Khalistani secessionists in the Sikh diaspora, according to a counter-terrorism expert.

Ajai Sahni, who serves as the Executive Director of the Institute for Conflict Management in New Delhi, said a handful of people working at the instructions of ageing Khalistanis, who had left India in the 1990s, were trying to give a Khalistani colour to every incident of this nature.

Sahni said, "There is a very small minority of individuals of this nature. Their efforts are to revive the Khalistani movement in the country. Overwhelmingly, they are led by people abroad. They manage to mobilize a handful of people here."

"For instance, we had some incidents in 2016-17 where we had eight killings in Punjab, which were organized by Happy (Harmeet Singh) and they were done by locals. There were two individuals involved in that. So, it's not that nobody in India is looking in that direction. But, it is a marginal minority; they have no political support and they have not been able to gather any kind of traction among the larger population" added Sahni

Harmeet Singh was a Khalistani militant who was wanted in as many as 17 cases by Indian agencies including National Investigation Agency, CBI and Punjab Police.

Interpol had issued a red corner notice against him in 2019.

His murder, however, remains an unsolved mystery as multiple theories have emerged in the aftermath.

While one theory says it was the fight over control of drug trafficking to India that led to his killing other points at the direct involvement of ISI which was unsatisfied with his work.

"One must understand the manner in which this hit was done could have been done either by a terrorist organization or a criminal group. The same kinds of hits are also done by ISI proxies," opined Sahni.

Khalistani secessionists are mere cannon fodder for ISI, which sets and regulates the terms of engagement between two sides. Khalistani is required to prove their calibre and produce results for all forms of protection they are provided by Pakistan's spy agency.

Lately, the Pakistani Army has vigorously pushed for the narcotics in the Indian state of Punjab and it has employed a large section of pro-Khalistani leaders residing inside its territory for the job.

"There is clearly a linkage between the two. It is very clear that the Khalistani element is also being used to move drugs," said Sahni.

Although a huge force and money is being pushed in to destroy the youth, assertive vigilance and several crackdowns leading to multiple arrests have been able to contain the drug trafficking in Punjab.

Recently, heroin worth over 2,000 crores with Pakistani imprints was seized by Indian forces in the International market of Punjab.

"In the past, they were very successful and that had resulted in very high rate of dissemination of drugs, passage of drugs to Punjab and high rates of addiction in the population. Over the last two to three years there has been a significant decline in these trends, there have been seizures and there have been significant continuous arrests", said Sahni.

He added, "It is important to emphasize that this cannot succeed only on the strengths of ISI and its intentions, it needs Indian partners on the ground and if there is effective action against people on our side of the border, they cannot succeed".

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Wed, February 05 2020. 19:57 IST
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