Intelligence Agencies Warned of ISI Plot to Create Trouble in Punjab

CHANDIGARH:  Pakistan’s intelligence agency, Inter-Services Intelligence, could make an attempt to create trouble in Punjab, Central intelligence agencies had warned the Punjab government at least a fortnight before the crisis over desecration of Sikh scriptures erupted.

NDTV has accessed a letter sent by a senior Punjab police officer to all district officers, citing inputs from Intelligence Bureau’s Amritsar unit and advising them to take necessary steps. The letter – dated October 1 — talked about an attempt by the ISI to send a group of terrorists trained in Sikh manners and customs to create trouble in the state.

The letter said a group of 15-20 militants from Pakistan — who had undergone arms training under 26/11 Mumbai attack mastermind Hafiz Sayeed — had been trained in “Sikh traditions and Gurmukhi script at Pakistan’s Gurudwara Sahib for about two months”. Their trainer was Ranjeet Singh, the Chief of Khalistan Zindabad Force, it added.

But despite the advance information, protests seared Punjab over the acts of desecration, plunging the Akali-BJP government into the worst crisis of its nine-year rule.

On Tuesday, the Punjab police said two men were arrested from Faridkote, the epicenter of the protests. The men, the police said, had been in touch with handlers in Dubai and Australia. The police also claimed that it has “clear and concrete evidence” of foreign funding in the cases.

IPS Sahota, Additional Director General of Police, Crime, told media persons that all seven acts of sacrilege were interconnected.

The police, however, had earlier claimed that the incidents of desecration had been isolated, citing cases of a two arrested persons who claimed to have been settling scores with a gurdwara and creating panic among the people.

Chief minister Parkash Singh Badal had said external agencies were engineering the unrest.

On Monday, Central paramilitary forces were deployed in four cities of the state as Sikh groups and radical outfits had blocked highways, demanding action against those responsible for desecrating scriptures. The protesters have threatened to continue the blockade till October 25 for three hours every day.

So far, six people have been arrested and five of the seven cases have been solved, the police have said.