The Himachal Pradesh Police Wednesday arrested man from Punjab who, alongwith another person, had allegedly tied the “Khalistan flags” on the main gate of the Vidhan Sabha complex in Dharamshala and scrawling slogans on its walls. Himachal DGP Sanjay Kundu said the arrested accused has also confessed to having put up a Khalistan banner outside the mini-secretariat complex in Punjab’s Ropar last month.
Announcing the arrest, Himachal Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur said the state police arrested one Harvir Singh, son of Rajinder Singh, from Punjab in the morning. Harvir has confessed to having put up the Khalistani flags and vandalising the outer wall of the winter Vidhan Sabha complex with separatist slogans, he said.
The Himachal Police is working in collaboration with their Punjab counterparts to nab the second accused who has been identified only as Vaneet Singh.
Kangra SP Khushal Sharma said that the accused will be produced before a court Thursday.
DGP Kundu said Harvir, during preliminary interrogation, revealed that he and Vaneet had also put up the Khalistani banner outside the mini-secretariat complex in Ropar on April 13. Besides the offices of Ropar deputy commissioner and senior superintendent of police, the complex houses district courts. The banner was found tied to the trees outside the boundary wall of the complex early in the morning.
Soon after the flags were found in Dharamshala, Kundu had ordered to seal all interstate borders and barriers “keeping in view the incidents of Khalistan elements” in neighboring states, the “incident of tying of a Khalistan banner in Una” on April 11, and threat posed by the outlawed Sikhs for Justice announcing June 6 as voting date for Khalistan Referendum in Himachal Pradesh.
An an FIR under Sections 153-A, 153-B of IPC, Section 3 of HP Open Places (Prevention of Disfigurement) Act, 1985, and Section 13 of Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) was registered at Dharamshala police station against Gurpatwant Singh Pannu of the SFJ and others.
To investigate the case, the DGP had also set up a seven-member SIT led by Kangra’s Additional Superintendent of Police Puneet Raghu.
Kundu said that the SIT sound some clues after going through the footage recovered from the CCTVs installed near the Vidhan Sabha complex. Further the cellphone call detail record too came in handy in identifying and nabbing the accused.
On being asked how was Pannu involved in the incident, the DGP said they are carrying out investigation.
On Tuesday, Pannu, in an audio message, had asked Thakur to take lessons from Punjab CM Bhagwant Mann and not start conflict with the pro-Khalistan group. In the audio message sent to some mediapersons, he also threatened Thakur with “violence” if he takes any action against raising of the Khalistani flag in Dharamshala. Referring to Monday’s RPG attack at Punjab Police headquarters in Mohali, he said “it could have been Shimla also”.
While CM Thakur had called the incident of putting up Khalistani flags at the Vidhan Sabha in the dark of night as an “act of cowardice”, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), which is seeking to make inroads in the poll-bound state, had said it was “complete security failure” on the part of the BJP-led government.