Khalistani flags were found tied to the main gate and the walls of the Himachal Pradesh Legislative Assembly in Dharamshala on Sunday morning, said Chief Minister Jairam Thakur. Pro-Khalistan slogans were also painted on the walls of the assembly complex.

The Khalistan movement is a separatist campaign with an ambition to create a country for Sikhs by seceding from Punjab.

“I condemn the cowardly incident of raising Khalistan flags at the gate of Dharamshala Assembly Complex,” Thakur wrote on
Twitter. “As only the winter session is held in this [Dharamshala] Assembly, there is a need for more security arrangements here during that time.”

Thakur said the incident would be investigated quickly and strict action would be taken against those who were involved. Himachal Pradesh is a cordial state and peace should prevail, he added.

The flags were removed by the administration. “We have removed the Khalistani flags from the Vidhan Sabha [Assembly] gate,” Kangra Superintendent of Police Khushal Sharma said. “It could be an act of some tourists from Punjab.”

According to Sharma, the flags might have been draped over the main gate during late Saturday night or early morning on Sunday.

Sub-divisional Magistrate of Dharamshala Shilpi Beakta described the incident as a “wake-up call”, ANI reported.

“We are inquiring about the matter and a case will be registered under relevant sections of the Himachal Pradesh Open Places [Prevention of Disfigurement] Act, 1985,” Beakta said. “This is like a wake-up call for us to work with more alertness.”

Former Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh condemned the incident and sought strict action against the culprits. He said that “fringe elements” were trying to disturb peace in the country by such acts.

Aam Aadmi Party leader Manish Sisodia said that the Bharatiya Janata Party government has completely failed. “The government which cannot save the Legislative Assembly, how will it save the people?” asked Sisodia. “This is a matter of Himachal’s respect, security of the country.”

The development came days after Gurpatwant Singh Pannu, leader of Sikhs For Justice group, called for hoisting Khalistani flag in Shimla, the Hindustan Times reported.