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Khalistanis winning in Punjab, Kashmiri separatist in Baramulla: The 3 victories that may look good for ‘democracy’ but concerning for national security

The success of independent, diverse candidates across party and ideology in a democratic setup is a testament to the fair electoral process. However, such victories of separatist leaders raise red flags and have potential threats to national security.

On 4th June, results for Lok Sabha Elections 2024 were announced. Two seats from Punjab and one from Jammu and Kashmir sent shockwaves across the nation as three separatist leaders won these seats. Amritpal Singh from Khadoor Sahib (Punjab), Sarabjeet Singh Khalsa from Faridkot (Punjab) and Abdul Rashid Sheikh from Baramullah (Jammu and Kashmir) stood victorious in the General Elections. Two of the three are currently lodged in jail. While on the surface, their victory as independent candidates might appear as a celebration of democracy showing that the electorate can make diverse choices, when we look at the deeper context, it is concerning for national security.

The victory in Baramulla: A separatist’s win

In Baramulla, independent candidate Abdul Rashid Sheikh secured 4,72,481 votes which amounted to a 45.7% vote share. He comfortably defeated Omar Abdullah, former chief minister of J&K and leader of Jammu & Kashmir National Conference who managed to secure only 2,68,339 votes that amounted to 25.95% vote share. It is notable that Sheikh, a separatist leader, is currently lodged in Tihar under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).       

Source: ECI

Popularly known as Engineer Rashid, he is the founder of the Jammu and Kashmir Awami Ittehad Party. Earlier, he contested Assembly Elections in 2008 and 2014 and stood victorious. He also contested the 2019 Lok Sabha elections but could not win. Before joining politics, he was a construction engineer, hence the name Engineer Rashid. In 2019, he was arrested by the National Investigation Agency on the charges of terror funding activities becoming the first recognised leader to be arrested under UAPA.

Rashid represents a faction that has challenged the sovereignty of India in the region for decades. His victory is proof that there is a long way for the Indian government to win the hearts of the people of Jammu and Kashmir and get rid of the separatist sentiments in the region.

Faridkot chose a Khalistani leader, son of man who assassinated Indira Gandhi

In Faridkot, Sarabjeet Singh Khalsa contested as an independent candidate. He is son of Beant Singh, one of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s assasins. Sarabjeet secured 2,98,062 votes translating to a 29.38% vote share. He defeated Aam Aadmi Party’s Karamjit Singh Anmol who received 2,28,009 votes translating to 22.48% vote share. Sarabjeet’s family is known for its pro-Khalistani sentiments and has advocated for a separate Sikh state. His victory is a stark reminder that the undercurrents of the Khalistani movement persist in the state of Punjab posing a serious threat to India’s unity and integrity.

Source: ECI

Khadoor Sahib’s verdict exposed widespread Khalistani sentiments in Punjab

In Khadoor Sahib, pro-Khalistani separatist leader Amritpal Singh won by a significant margin. Amritpal Singh is currently lodged in Dibrugarh Jail after being arrested by central agencies under National Security Act (NSA). Amritpal secured 4,04,430 votes which translated to 38.62% vote share. He defeated Indian National Congress’s Kulbur Singh Zira who secured 2,07,310 votes which translated to a 19.8% vote share. Amritpal Singh gained popularity in Punjab after taking over the late Deep Sidhu’s organisation Waris Punjab De. Sidhu was also a pro-Khalistani leader. Notably, Amritpal was seen as Bhindranwale 2.0 by pro-Khalistani elements in Punjab.

Source: ECI

In 2023, Central agencies and Punjab Police launched a manhunt against Amritpal Singh for his pro-Khalistani and anti-India activities. The hunt began in March 2023 but he managed to stay on the run for over a month and was arrested at the end of April 2023. Amritpal Singh, who donned attire similar to Khalistani terrorist Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale during his march across Punjab, gave an impression that his movement was against drugs in the state, which is a serious problem. By the time he was arrested, Amritpal already had a weapon training centre and gained lakhs of followers which was visible in the election results. A Khalistani leader securing over 4 lakh votes is not a good sign for national security.

Access to sensitive parliamentary documents

Being parliamentarians all three of them are going to have access to sensitive documents related to the central government that the general public cannot access. Such information can be used to manipulate the sentiments of the public in the long run. There is evidence that some parliamentarians have shared their passwords with unauthorised personnel, take the example of Mahua Moitra who was expelled from Lok Sabha in December last year. Even with multiple layers of security, such access to documents can be dangerous.

Democracy at a crossroads

The success of independent, diverse candidates across party and ideology in a democratic setup is a testament to the fair electoral process. However, such victories of separatist leaders raise red flags and have potential threats to national security. These leaders’ separatist and pro-Khalistani ideologies could embolden similar movements, destabilising the regional and national equilibrium.

These victories should be seen as a wake-up call for the nation. While the democratic process must be upheld, it is imperative to address the underlying issues that allow separatist and extremist ideologies to flourish. The victories of Abdul Rashid Sheikh, Sarabjeet Singh Khalsa, and Amritpal Singh serve as a stark reminder that democracy, while a pillar of freedom, can also be a double-edged sword if not accompanied by vigilant safeguards for national security.

Ayodhra Ram Mandir special coverage by OpIndia

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Anurag
Anurag
B.Sc. Multimedia, a journalist by profession.

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