BY SUMIT KUMAR SINGH
New Delhi, Oct 22 (IANS) Against the backdrop of Pakistan’s concentrated effort to stoke terrorism in Punjab, India has decided to strengthen inter-agency cooperation by creating a joint counter operation centre of security agencies, including Punjab Police in the state, sources said on Tuesday.
The proposal has been mooted in a meeting of the top brass of security agencies in New Delhi, following the continued incidents of drone apppearances including the air-dropping of arms by Pakistan-based terror outfits in the border state.
The Joint Counter Operation Centre will have representatives from National Investigation Agency (NIA), Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW), Intelligence Bureau (IB) and Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), apart from Punjab Police, to carry out anti-terror operations nad prevent terror outfits from taking root in the state once more.
The government has asked Punjab Director General of Police and top leadership of the NIA, R&AW, IB and MHA to initiate action in a time-bound manner and communicate the action taken in this regard at the earliest, according to senior government officials familiar with the decision.
Further, with the opening of the much-awaited Kartarpur Corridor on November 9 and a conspiracy by Pakistan’s spy agency, ISI, to revive militancy in Punjab, the command centre will act as the nodal point for intelligence gathering, as well as operation command room.
Intelligence agencies have clearly stated that Pakistan will use Kartarpur Corridor to fuel pro-Khalistan campaign by radicalising pilgrims who travel to Pakistan.
The agencies have warned that Sikh fundamental organisations like Sikhs For Justice (SFJ) plan to use the Kartarpur Corridor to further their secessionist agenda. The SFJ is being supported by Pakistan-based handlers to provide money and logistical support to local terrorists in Punjab to carry out subversive activities.
Intelligence sources have raised alarm that several gurdwaras in Pakistan are still being used to promote pro-Khalistan campaign and they have shared inputs regarding pamphlets being distributed at some gurdwaras in Pakistan that talked about “Sikh Referendum 2020”.
The SFJ, headed by Avtar Singh Pannun and Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, started advocating a separate Khalistan state as well as an online secessionist campaign, the “Sikh Referendum 2020”.
Punjab Police has registered 10 different cases against the SFJ and its members, while the National Investigation Agency (NIA) is also probing the group in one case.
The agencies also said Pakistan is making all attempts to revive and activate members of other banned organisations like Khalistan Liberation Force (KLF), Babbar Khalsa International (BKI), Khalistan Commando Force (KCF), Khalistan Zindabad Force (KZF) and International Sikh Youth Federation (ISYF).
Sources also said that several Pakistan-based terrorist groups were engaged in smuggling weapons into India since August 5, post the abrogation of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir.
In September, the IB and R&AW had submitted a detailed report to Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on citing about drones carrying weapons coming from Pakistan. The report had stated that Pakistan state actors were behind these incidents. It also stated that the drones recovered were of Chinese make.
The Punjab Police has already launched elaborate investigations to account for the weapons consignments apparently smuggled into India from across the frontier by the two drones recovered near the India-Pakistan border over the last around one month. The state police teams are probing drones spotted last month in Jhabal town in Tarn Taran district.
Both the recovered drones were apparently sent by different terror groups, linked with the Pakistan ISI, and the State-sponsored Jihadi and pro-Khalistani terrorist outfits working under its command.