Indian agencies alert as SFJ declares ‘Referendum 2020’ in Nov

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BY RAJNISH SINGH
New Delhi, Sep 8 (IANS)
A fringe radical US-based outfit Sikhs For Justice (SFJ) has announced to hold its pro-Khalistan Referendum 2020 in November this year, leading to close cooperation among security and law enforcement agencies across the country to foil the secessionist group’s anti-India agenda.
Several other moves of the banned group — mostly turning out to be just a hoax — have already been thwarted by the Indian security agencies as well as state police forces. The Intelligence Bureau is taking this particular announcement seriously, as was done in the case of other SFJ declarations in the recent past.
Consequently, an alert has already been issued by Indian security agencies to state police forces and counterpart wings therein, especially in Punjab, Chandigarh, Jammu and Kashmir and Delhi, to keep a close watch on the social media, which may be the easiest possible tool the SFJ will use to drive its ‘Referendum 2020’ campaign from foreign soil.
Calling itself an ‘international human rights advocacy group’, the US-based SFJ’s Attorney and General Counsel Gurpatwant Singh Pannun recently announced to hold the first-ever non-governmental referendum through www.referendum2020.org in November this year.
The group, in a message through its web portal and ‘Voice Punjab 2020’ mobile application on Google play store, has appealed to the people living in Punjab, other parts of India as well as abroad — belonging to all faiths — to vote in its “Referendum 2020” campaign, which is promoted by the group to divide India on communal lines.
The Sikhs living around the globe will have the opportunity to vote on the question of secession of Punjab from India — popularly known as ‘Khalistan Referendum 2020’ — as envisaged by the SFJ.
The pro-Khalistan group has been trying to destabilise law and order in India for a long time. Last month, the group had declared a $1,25,000 reward for anyone who hoisted a Khalistan flag at the Red Fort on Independence Day on August 15.
The SFJ, banned by the Union Home Ministry in July 2019 for advocating ‘Referendum 2020’, has chosen Punjab, Delhi and Jammu and Kashmir since July 4 to launch its online voter registration for ‘Referendum 2020’ through different portals but reportedly could not gather support.
The group has used Canadian cyberspace twice for launching its voter registration for the referendum in Delhi and Jammu and Kashmir on the instructions of Pannun, who has been playing a major role in the ‘Referendum 2020’ campaign.
The SFJ’s lead campaigner Pannun was on July 1, 2020 declared a terrorist by the central government under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act for trying to revive militancy in Punjab through anti-national activities and involvement in the Khalistan movement.
Eight pro-Khalistanis were also designated as terrorists by the Indian government.
The SFJ enjoys the backing of Pakistan-based handlers in providing money and logistic support to radical Sikh elements in Punjab to carry out subversive activities.
The group is headed by Avtar Singh Pannun and Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, who have been advocating the cause of Khalistan as well as the online secessionist campaign for the referendum.
However, the SFJ’s agenda has been rejected by the Sikhs across India in spite of the Inter-Services Intelligence-sponsored propaganda on ‘Referendum 2020’. The Pakistani intelligence agency has been backing the malicious SFJ campaign, with a large number of Pakistani Twitter handles tweeting in favor of the exercise.

(Rajnish Singh can be contacted at rajnish.s@ians.in)

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