Banned outfit Sikhs for Justice (SFJ) has announced a reward of $ 2,50,000 for Punjab farmers hoisting Khalistan flag at India Gate in the national capital. The union government has cited this appeal by the Sikh group as one of the documents to support its concern over the presence of separatist elements at the farmers’ protests in New Delhi.
The government is expected to file an affidavit in the Supreme Court on 13 January confirming that there is evidence of Khalistanis infiltrating the farmers’ protests.
On 12 January, the union government had told the apex court that it has credible information with inputs from the Intelligence Bureau, of the presence of Sikh supporters of Khalistan in the farmers’ protest in the national capital. Attorney-General of India KK Venugopal flagged the issue in the Supreme Court during the hearing on petitions regarding the farm laws.
Chief Justice of India (CJI) SA Bobde had asked the attorney-general and solicitor-general to put on the record, the claims regarding the presence of separatist elements in farmer protests. The union government had said that the government will compile information from the Union Home Ministry and submit the affidavit.
The reward announced by the Sikh outfit is more significant on the backdrop of a warning by farmers’ unions to take out a tractor rally on the Republic Day. The presence of militant Sikh groups may pose threat to the security of the Republic Day parade. The top court is slated to hear the matter on the proposed tractor rally, on 11 January.
The opposition parties, led by Indian National Congress (INC) are up in arms against the union government’s claims over the presence of divisive elements in farmer protests. In fact, Shiv Sena, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) former ally in the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), taunted the government on 12 January, by asking if ‘Khalistan’ was responsible for the outbreak of bird flu in the country.