Pakistan Army’s Lieutenant Colonel, identified as Shahid Mehmood Malhi, is the man behind the idea of “Referendum 2020”, a movement started by radical Sikhs in the United States and Canada on behest of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), a report in the Times of India has revealed, citing intelligence reports.
The referendum, which now appears to be an extension of Pakistan’s urge to revenge its humiliating defeat in the 1971 Bangladesh liberation war by kicking up trouble in Punjab in the 80s and the 90s, is aimed at “liberating” Punjab from India for the creating of a Sikh state named Khalistan.
Indian agencies have managed to get documents from the computer of Lt Col Malhi, which give detailed insight into the Pakistan’s plan.
ISI has code-named the Referendum 2020 initiative ‘Operation Express’ and has earmarked a dedicated budget for the launch and implementation of the operation. Sikh radical leader based in Germany, known to be an ISI operative, is linked to the Referendum 2020 campaigners. The ISI, along with these campaigners, is using social media to propagate the idea of Khalistan and has been identifying “agents of interest” in various countries.
The ISI has created WhatsApp groups to push the idea of online voting for all Sikhs residing in 20 countries in 2020.
Documents, which the daily claims to have accessed, reveal that Malhi was heading ISI’s Lahore detachment - responsible for activities in Punjab - in 2015. He could have been behind the killing of right-wing activists in Punjab.
The agencies also believe that he could have been the mastermind of the terrorist strike in Gurdaspur’s Dinanagar town in July 2015 and the fidayeen strike on the Pathankot airbase in January 2016.
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