Stop bid to revive Punjab terror now or it’ll be too late: Army Chief Bipin Rawat


NEW DELHI: Army chief General Bipin Rawat on Saturday put the spotlight on attempts to revive insurgency in Punjab through “external linkages” and warned that “it would be too late” if early action was not taken. His comments come in the background arrests of Khalistani elements with Pakistan connections and who are also associated with a controversial “Sikh referendum”.

Addressing a gathering of senior Army officers, defence experts and former senior officials of the government and police at a seminar on ‘Changing Contours of Internal Security in India: Trends and Responses’, Rawat said though Punjab had been peaceful for years now, there were external outfits and operatives trying to stoke the fire of militancy once again in the state.

“Let us not think that Punjab (situation) is over. We cannot close our eyes to what is happening in Punjab. And, if we do not take early action now, it will be too late,” he said.

Rawat’s airing his concerns comes against the backdrop of the busting of an ISI-backed module in Patiala last week, leading to the arrest of Shabnamdeep Singh, who, according to Punjab police, was plotting to attack police stations and crowded places during the ongoing festive season. “He is associated with the Khalistan Gadar Force, a terrorist organisation, and was also running operations for the Sikhs for Justice (SFJ),” a senior Patiala police official was quoted as saying after the arrest .

Police further claimed that with Shabnamdeep’s arrest, they had uncovered ISI’s nexus with Gurpatwant Singh Pannu’s SFJ, which is running the Sikh Referendum-2020 campaign. “With ISI backing, SFJ has launched a conspiracy to spread mayhem in the state,” a Punjab police officer said.

Last month, three Sikhs were arrested in Shamli for attacking two policemen and looting their weapons. Their interrogation pointed to their links with a Sikh radical outfit and revealed a plot to target former Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal’s rallies and public meetings. Former UP DGP Prakash Singh echoed the same concerns.


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