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With Amritpal in Net, Khalistan Bogey Buried in Punjab

ISI May Continue to Stir Trouble Abroad
Finally, after a 36-day-long run, Amritpal Singh gave himself up to the Punjab Police in the native village of his role model and the original Khalistan mascot, Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale.

But, significantly, there was no sign of trouble or protests in Punjab on Sunday as Singh was quickly whisked away to Dibrugargh jail in Assam. Singh, perhaps, did anticipate some voices in his favour after putting up a show of sitting before Bhindrawale’s picture in a gurdwara at Rode village in Moga district, and trying to play a martyr for the cause of Khalistan. This, however, may not travel far or register widely in Punjab, as it did not even during his 36 days of bumbling escape that has eroded whatever little influence he had built.
Booked under the National Security Act (NSA) along with nine of his key associates and shifted to far-off Dibrugarh, Singh is not expected to be a free man for many years to come with serious charges of Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) and sedition to be clamped on him as well. This has also been done to ensure he is not lodged in a Punjab jail where security systems have been found to be porous, lately with gangsters like Lawrence Bishnoi giving video interviews from the jail. Also, this avoids any political mobilisation for Amritpal in Punjab.While the failure of the Punjab Police to nab him before he reached Rode village or over the last 36 days is a matter of debate, Singh’s eight-month long sojourn in Punjab after arriving from Dubai could soon be relegated to a thing of the past. One reason for the same is political alignment of the Bhagwant Mann government and the Centre over diminishing the Amritpal factor in Punjab. Both Union Home Minister Amit Shah and Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann have been making statements that ‘Khalistan’ bogey is a thing of the past in Punjab and a wide majority of the people have moved on.

The ‘Khalistan’ issue would, however, continue to reverberate abroad in countries such as the UK, US and Canada given the active support of Pakistan’s ISI to the radical Sikh groups, in a bid to keep the pot stirring. As seen during the protests abroad in the last one month since the police crackdown on Amritpal Singh, which have a clear stamp of ISI support.India will need to do much more through diplomatic means to prevail upon Canada, the US and UK to crack down on such elements and not allow seditious activities against the country in the name of freedom to speech. India has already taken action against radical Sikh elements abroad by moving to cancel their PIO or OCI cards.
The Amritpal issue also shows that the Aam Aadmi Party government in Punjab needs to remain on its toes to counter any attempts in the future by the ISI to prop up Amritpal-like elements in Punjab. The Mann government has a greater responsibility given Punjab being a border state, and work closely with the Centre on this. For now, Punjab and Centre can heave a sigh of relief with the Amritpal Singh chapter ending in Punjab.