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In SFJ’s Referendum 2020 app on Google, Capt sees ISI design

Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh (File/Express Photo by Kamleshwar Singh)

Ahead of the formal inauguration of Kartarpur Corridor Saturday, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh Friday took up with Google the matter of the launch of a secessionist, anti-India app on the IT giant’s app store and urged the Centre to direct the company to take it down immediately.

“Punjab DGP Dinkar Gupta is coordinating with the central security agencies to tackle the threat triggered by the launch of the ‘2020 Sikh Referendum’ app, just a day ahead of the opening of the Corridor,” a government spokesperson said.

The app has been launched by the US-sased separatist group Sikhs for Justice (SFJ). Banned by the Indian government in July this year, the group, formed in 2007, has been trying to build a campaign for a separate homeland for Sikhs - a “Khalistan” in Punjab. The secessionist campaign, called ‘Referendum 2020’, seeks to “liberate Punjab from Indian occupation”.

Amarinder said the app, freely available for download on Google Play, is clearly aimed at pushing the ISI agenda of dividing the Sikh community amid the 550th birth anniversary celebrations of Guru Nanak Dev.

“How and why Google allowed such an app to be uploaded by a known radical extremist group in the first place is questionable,” said the chief minister, expressing shock at the IT company’s “irresponsible act”.

“Google should remove the app without any delay if it did not want to be perceived to be supporting an extremist group,” Amarinder said, adding that the development raised concern over the security threat to Punjab and India as a whole.

The timing of the launch of the app indicates a patently sinister agenda of the ISI to leverage the opportunity created by the Kartarpur Corridor to divide the Indian Sikh community, said Amarinder, who has been repeatedly cautioning against the security agency’s design behind the opening of the rod that will connects Dera Baba Nanak in Punjab’s Gurdaspur to Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Pakistan’s Narowal.

He said the SFJ, under whose “guise the ISI had been pushing Referendum 2020”, was declared an unlawful association by the Centre some months. “However, with the sustained support of the ISI, the SFJ has continued to push its anti-India campaign and the app was the latest in the series of tools it was employing to further its agenda,” he added.

Underlining the need for India to stay on high alert in the light of the persistent attempts by the ISI to destabilise Punjab with its secessionist activities, Amarinder reiterated that extreme caution would have to be exercised during the opening of the Kartarpur corridor.

While every Sikh aspired for the ‘darshan’ at the historic Kartarpur Sahib gurdwara, Pakistan, the Punjab CM said, should not try to play any games that threaten the integrity and peace of the country, he said. Punjab govt declares holiday in Gurdaspur, Kapurthala and Amritsar on Saturday

Chandigarh: The Punjab government has declared a holiday in Gurdaspur, Kapurthala and Amritsar districts on Saturday in connection with the celebrations of the 550th Prakash Purab of Guru Nanak Dev.
All the offices of the Punjab government, boards, corporations and educational institutions in these districts would remain closed on the auspicious occasion, an official spokesperson said here on Friday.
A notification has been issued by the state Personnel Department, he said.
He further said the Punjab government has declared a gazetted holiday in the entire state on Monday.