On 28 December, Punjab Police further arrested three individuals purportedly campaigning for the SFJ and distributing propaganda material in Patiala. While no group has claimed responsibility, security officials suspect the role of Pakistan-based, pro-Khalistan elements for the explosion at the district court in Ludhiana, which killed one individual and injured six others on 23 December. Additionally, the Punjab Police have also alerted the state’s security apparatus of the “very high” threat of ISI-backed, pro-Khalistan outfits in the state.
However, it is crucial to note that the separatist Khalistan movement has remained largely dormant in the past years, with no major security threat posed by the groups. In that context, the recent incident can be perceived as Pakistan-backed extremist elements’ potential attempts to indulge in disruptive actions in the poll-bound state, posing no larger security risk beyond the Punjab region.
In fact, Ludhiana’s explosion inside a government building points to the inadequate state security apparatus and marks the militants’ capabilities to penetrate high-security zones, as seen with the low-intensity hand grenade attack at the gate of the Pathankot Army camp in November. In 2016, the Indian Air Force’s Pathankot base had come under attack reportedly by six armed militants of the Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), which killed 10 security officials and wounded 22 others.