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Security Agencies Fear Pro-Khalistan Influence as Farmer Unions Back ‘Bandhi Sikh’ Protests

Despite some differences between farmer unions over the issue of lending support to the radical group Quami Insaf Morcha, the top brass have been forced to express their solidarity on the emotive issue of the release of Sikh prisoner

With the protests over the release of Bandhi Sikhs (Sikh prisoners) escalating, security agencies are worried over farmer unions lending support to pro-Khalistan radicals spearheading the protests.

The protests have already led to violent clashes between police and some radical members of the Quami Insaf Morcha, which is leading the protests, leaving more than 40 policemen injured.

Ironically, the farmers’ unions have been seen as distancing themselves from the pro-Khalistan groups. Even during the farmers’ protests, farmer unions had tried to stay away from the radical elements.

But on the Bandhi Sikh issue, the unions seem to be providing a platform to the Morcha. Last month, 32 farm organizations had decided to lend their support to the Morcha. The first to send its members for the ongoing protest on the Chandigarh-Punjab border was the Kirti Kisan Union, which had suffered the most at the hands of Khalistanis with three of its presidents shot dead during the days of militancy.

“We cannot go back on the decision; it was a collective decision of all farm unions. We firmly believe all prisoners who have completed their sentence should be freed,” said Raminder Singh Patiala of the Kirti Kisan Union.

Despite some differences between the farm unions over the issue of lending support to the radical group, the top brass have been forced to express their solidarity on the emotive issue of the release of Sikh prisoners.

One of the premier farm unions, the BKU-Ugrahan, had initially decided to stay away from the protests, but recently decided to support albeit with a condition that it was for the release of all political prisoners, including those from SC, ST, religious and Maoists groups.

Security agencies fear that despite farmers’ union claiming support for a “just cause”, the protests are turning into a breeding ground for radical elements.

Despite the support of Left-dominated farm unions, a section of youth at the Mohali protest site have been raising anti-Communism slogans. “We are closely monitoring the situation. We suspect that radical elements have taken over the protests and it could escalate further,” said an officer.

The Punjab Police, who came under fire for inaction during last week’s protests, have now put up surveillance cameras at the protest site to keep tabs on the protestors. “In the last protest also, the ISI has tried to fan Khalistan sentiments. So we need to keep tabs on the protests to weed out radical elements aiming to cause mischief,” a senior officer said.One of the armoured tractors deployed by the Punjab Police on the Mohali-Chandigarh border.

The Punjab Police, meanwhile, deployed seven armoured tractors on the Mohali-Chandigarh border to tackle Bandhi Sikh protesters on the dividing roads of Sectors 52 and 53 on Monday.

DS News

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