Pro-Khalistan slogans were found painted on the walls of at least five metro stations in Delhi on Sunday.
The incident comes weeks ahead of the G-20 Summit in which top world leaders, including US President Joe Biden, Chinese President Xi Jinping, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, and French President Emmanuel Macron, are set to spend days in the national capital. For September 8-10, Delhi would be in a security blanket and regular traffic and work-related commute would be highly restricted.
The slogan painted on the five stations read as "Delhi banega Khalistan", which means "Delhi will become Khalistan".
The Khalistan is the name of the separate Sikh state that Sikh extremists wish to carve out of India. For decades, the Khalistan supporters waged a bloody insurgency in Sikh-majority Punjab and the violence only ebbed in 1990s. Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was assassinated by her Sikh bodyguards in 1984 after she ordered a military operation at the holiest Sikh shrine Golden Temple in Amritsar which was occupied by well-armed Sikh terrorists. Though the insurgency has ebbed in India, the Khalistani elements continue to have pockets of support abroad, most notably in Canada and UK, and continue to trigger inimical acts in India.
The Delhi Police confirmed the role of US-based Sikhs for Justice (SFJ) in the paintings of slogans and SFJ confirmed it in a video.
The SFJ has been banned in India by the Centre under the anti-terror law Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), 1967.
The Delhi Polce said in a statement: In more than 5 metro stations somebody has written 'Delhi Banega Khalistan and Khalistan Zindabad'. Delhi Police is taking legal action against this. Ahead of the G20 Summit, Sikhs For Justice (SFJ) released raw footage of Delhi metro stations where Khalistan pro slogans are written. SFJ activists were present in multiple metro stations in Delhi from Shivaji Park to Punjabi Bagh with pro-Khalistan slogans."
In a video purportedly released by SFJ, Khalistani leader Gurpatwant Singh Pannun said "the battle for Pragati Maidan has started today".
The Pragati Maidan is the venue for the G-20 Summit where the meeting of the leaders of the world's 20 most important countries would take place, marking the conclusion of India's yearlong presidency of G-20.
"The battle for G-20 Summit at Pragati Maidan has started today. India's Modi is on the target...Punjab is not India. Khalistan Zindabad. Modi's India is committing genocide of Sikhs. The slogans have been put all over Delhi Metro Stations and this is a message to G-20 nations," says Pannu in the video.
A senior official from the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) acknowledged the situation as a matter of law and order, expressing the organization's intent to collaborate with the Delhi Police.
Notably, the incident occurred on the same day when the Delhi Police executed a 'carcade' rehearsal, moving from various points to Pragati Maidan, as part of their preparations for the upcoming G20 Summit.