Khalistan flags at Himachal Assembly gate triggers political row

Himachal Assembly gate
Himachal Pradesh Assembly gate had Khalistani flags on May 8 morning which were removed later by authorities | Photo - ANI/Twitter

Himachal Pradesh woke up to a controversy on Sunday (May 8) as Khalistan flags were found tied on the main gate of the state assembly building in Dharamshala, with separatist slogans written on the walls.

Authorities received information about the flag at 7.30 am and quickly rushed to remove the flag and erase the slogans.

It might have happened in the late night or early morning today. We have removed the Khalistani flags from Vidhan Sabha gate. we are investigating and going to register a case, SP Kangra Khushal Sharma said.

SDM, Dharamshala, Shilpi Beakta said, “It is an alert call for us.” “We received an information this morning at around 7.30am. We have removed the flags and walls have been painted again. We are inquiring about the matter and are going to register a case under relevant sections of Himachal Pradesh Open Places Prevention of Disfigurement Act, 1985. Rest details can be shared after investigation”.

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Strong condemnation poured in from various quarters, with local BJP MLA Vishal Nehria terming the incident disgusting and an act of cowardice. “We, the Himachalis, and the Indians are not afraid of any threats from the supporters of so-called Khalistan,” the MLA said.

“I condemn the cowardly incident of putting up Khalistan flags at the gate of Dharamshala Assembly Complex in the dark of night. There is only winter session in this assembly, so there is a need for increased security arrangements here mostly during that time,” Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Jairam Thakur said in a tweet.

He said the government has ordered an inquiry into the incident. “We will soon review security at our borders with other states,” he added.

Targeting the ruling BJP, Congress national secretary Sudhir Sharma pointed to the lapses in the security framework, with CCTV not working and absence of security personnel.

In a veiled manner, he also sought to put the blame on AAP, which had recently come to power in Punjab and whose leaders have been accused of harbouring separatist Khalistani interests.

“Recently, the efforts being made to create such an environment in Punjab, and Himachal are a matter of concern. We the people of Himachal will give our lives for the integrity of the country, but we will not allow such forces to flourish. Jai Hind,” Sharma tweeted.

Earlier, AAP had expelled its Himachal social media in-charge, Harpreet Singh Bedi who had been accused of supporting Khalistan, based on a series of his tweets posted a few years ago.

Countering the attack, Delhi deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia aimed potshots at the BJP.

“Entire BJP is trying to save one goon and Khalistani left there (HP assembly with flags. Khalistani flags were put on the Legislative Assembly. How will a government that cannot save the Legislative Assembly save the people? This is a matter of respect for Himachal Pradesh. It is a matter of security of the country. The BJP government has completely failed,” said Sisodia in a tweet, perhaps referring to Delhi BJP leader Tajinder Pal Singh Bagga as “goon”.

Following its landslide victory in Punjab, the AAP is gearing up to contest the upcoming assembly polls in Himachal Pradesh later this year.

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