The holy city of Amritsar was recently shaken by a grenade attack by two masked men who brandished pistols and forced their way into a weekly congregation of the Nirankari Sect.
Investigation reports –
- Initial investigation by the NIA confirmed that the grenade used in the attack was of HE-36 series which is a part of the Pakistani army arsenal.
- The modus of operandi of the attack was akin to one commonly employed during the dark era of militancy in Punjab in the 1980s and 1990s and strongly suggested possible involvement of inimical forces from Pakistan.
- Chief Minister of Punjab Amarinder Singh confirmed that they have busted 17 ISI backed Khalistani and Kashmiri terrorist modules in the state of Punjab with the latest being in Maqsudan Police Station of Jalandhar on September 18, 2018.
- Police arrested two operatives of Khalistan Liberation Force (KLF) who not only confessed their involvement in the attack but also that they had carried out the attack at the instance of Pakistan based KLF leadership.
- Pakistan since long has been putting its resources under Kashmiri-Khalistani (K2) project and making efforts to penetrate into the Indian border states.
Why Nirankari Sect was targeted?
- The Nirankari Sect is often considered to be heretics by the mainstream Sikhs. Therefore, the followers of the Sect have long been easy targets for the hardliners.
- Incidences of clashes between Nirankari and Khalsa Sect can be traced to the past when Sikh extremist leader Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale and his Damdami Taksal followers had murdered the then chief of Nirankari Sect Gurubachan Singh in New Delhi in April 24, 1980.
- Since then, Punjab was pushed into terrorism for nearly 15 years. Even the Akal Takht had issued a decree directing all its followers to cut off all relations with those Sikhs who were part of Nirankari organisation.
US State Department Report 1991 –
- Apart from facilitating logistic and training support to the terrorist groups, Pakistan Army is also investing its resources to unite Kashmiri and Khalistani groups.
- This fact was also acknowledged earlier by the US Department of State in its annual report of 1991 in which it clearly stated, “There were continuing credible reports throughout 1991 of official Pakistani support for Kashmiri militant groups engaged in terrorism in Indian-controlled Kashmir, as well as support to Sikh militant groups engaged in terrorism in Indian Punjab. This support allegedly includes the provision of weapons and training”.
Kartarpur Corridor –
- Pilgrimage related visits between the two countries are covered under Pilgrimage Protocol of 1974.
- Since 1980s, it has been Pakistan’s strategy to open a number of Sikh Pilgrimage destinations inside Pakistan – like Gurudwara Shri Nankana Sahib, Rawalpindi, Gurudwara Shri Panja Sahib, Rawalpindi, Gurudwara Shri Dera Sahib in Lahore – along with other 12 pilgrimage cites for Indian pilgrims.
- During Zia-ul Haq’s rule, cautious attempts were made which were intensified after Operation Bluestar to provoke Sikh Pilgrims to demand a separate state.
Way forward –
- Although a welcome initiative, given the element of security concern, there is need for India to evolve clear modalities before institutionalising the Kartarpur corridor.
- Along with these modalities, India will have to assert its diplomatic outreach bilaterally as well as multilaterally to restrain Pakistani agencies, who are in total control of Sikh Pilgrimage sites in Pakistan, from utilising it for promoting pro-Khalistani incitement of Indian Sikh Pilgrims during their visit.
- Kartarpur is not covered under the 1974 Protocol, but with both sides deciding to allow Indian Sikh pilgrims visit the site, the protocol may have to be amended to include it under a separate visa-free category.
Even though such attempts are highly unlikely to succeed and emerge as a national threat, India needs to closely monitor the developments and put in place an effective monitoring and enforcement machinery to deal with any untoward developments.
Source – VIF India
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