New Delhi: Members of a group going by the name of “Khalistan Zindabad”, on the popular messaging application Telegram, were from the initial days of January talking about “picking up arms” and “carry as many arms as possible” as they discussed their present and future moves to oppose the farm laws. As on Friday, this group had 42 members. The group’s admin goes by the name of “EmbassyofKhalistan” and has the picture of Khalistani leader Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, who was declared a terrorist by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) in July last year. The number of members in the group decreased following the 26 January riots in New Delhi.

It is not clear whether any of these 42 members were a part of the group of protesters who had been squatting at various points outside Delhi and later created a riot-like situation in the national capital region on 26 January, that culminated with the storming of the Red Fort and the unfurling of a religious flag from its ramparts.

On 11 January, one of the members of this “private group” (implying it is a closed group and entry is restricted to invitation only) had asked the members to “carry as many arms as possible”. It is not clear from the conversation accessed by The Sunday Guardian as to where these armed members were supposed to go and when.

It is pertinent to mention that one of the prominent members of this group is also behind a music video that was released on 31 October 2020 glorifying the life of Khalistani secessionist Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale. The video, which has images of the incidents that took place in 1984 (storming of the Golden Temple, assassination of the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi apart from Bhindranwale), has already got more than 7 lakh views. It was uploaded from Southall district of London, United Kingdom, on YouTube as well as Instagram.

During a conversation between members of this group on 14 January, at around 9 p.m. on the “ills of farm bills”, one of the members of the group is extolling the other members to “pick up arms”.

On 25 January, Delhi Police Special Commissioner Deependra Pathak had said that over 300 Twitter accounts, being operated from Pakistan, were being used to create disturbance in the national capital using the farmers’ protest as a cover. On Thursday, the Delhi Police appointed Lalit Mohan Negi, an ACP level officer posted in the Special Cell, whose expertise is in busting terror modules, as the head of the special investigation team, which will investigate the violence that took place in Delhi on 26 January.