March 23, 2023

India: Khalistan preacher Amritpal saga bares diplomatic and domestic challenges for New Delhi - Editorial, The Telegraph, March 23, 2023


Editorial, The Telegraph, March 23, 2023

Many angles: Editorial on Khalistani situation in Punjab and oversees

Amritpal saga bares diplomatic and domestic challenges for New Delhi
Amritpal Singh
Amritpal Singh
File picture

The Editorial Board   |   Published 23.03.23, 04:16 AM

The Punjab and Haryana High Court has legitimately expressed its dismay at Amritpal Singh, a divisive element and a symbol of Khalistani separatism, evading the police dragnet. Some of his accomplices have been apprehended and his supporters arrested. The ongoing police operation against the leader had been necessitated after the storming of a police station in Ajnala by his radical followers. The intelligence failure notwithstanding, the operation against the fugitive may well succeed. But it would be erroneous to argue that the developments are suggestive of merely a law and order problem. This is because the saga bares diplomatic and domestic challenges for New Delhi.

The most glaring attendant aspect of the drama has unfolded overseas. There have been unacceptable instances of vandalism by sympathisers of the Khalistani cause abroad. In London, in an outrageous act, the Indian national flag was brought down at the Indian High Commission; there were disturbances at the Indian consulate in San Francisco in the United States of America; pro-Khalistani elements heckled an Indian journalist in Canada. That fringe elements exist within the Sikh diaspora is not a revelation. But the wise men in New Delhi, in the throes of muscular nationalism, must not make the mistake of tarring the entire community with the same brush. That would help the fringe elements take centre stage. Neither should New Delhi allow these unfortunate incidents to cloud India’s diplomatic ties with its Western allies. Instead, the thrust should be on neutering these mischief-mongers with the help of the existing — robust — diplomatic framework. The caveat is necessary because of the current dispensation’s eagerness to view India’s international relationships through the prism of its domestic political agenda. In fact, the Centre has its task cut out in Punjab. The state may have left behind those turbulent days of militancy but subterranean radicalism continues to simmer. The spectre of Khalistan feeds off ground realities and Punjab’s ground situation is not that comforting. Low returns from agriculture, shrinking land holdings, a burgeoning trade in drugs combined with its location as a strategic border state make it vulnerable to unrest and, in turn, separatism. The immediate challenge for the governments at the Centre and the state — the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Aam  Aadmi  Party are not exactly friends — is to plan a blueprint for Punjab’s revival on multiple fronts. Otherwise, India’s western neighbour would be too happy to stir the muddied pool.

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India: Intelligence agencies had raised a red flag -- were the authorities sleeping at the wheel over the preacher Amritpal Singh?

 Hindustan Times

Amritpal Singh was raising own army, ‘human bomb squads': 10 points
ByAniruddha Dhar
, New Delhi
Mar 20, 2023 06:31 AM IST
Security agencies had raised a red flag after intelligence inputs suggested that Amritpal Singh was using drug de-addiction centres and a gurdwara for stockpiling weapons and preparing youths to carry out suicide attacks.