‘Khalistani terrorist’ Gurpatwant Singh Pannun under probe in 20 criminal cases in India

Gurpatwant Singh Pannun allegedly played a major role in promoting and commissioning terror acts and activities, and spreading fear and terror in Punjab and elsewhere in the country

September 25, 2023 09:49 pm | Updated 10:50 pm IST - NEW DELHI

A banner shows Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, a lawyer believed to be based in Canada designated as a Khalistani terrorist by the Indian authorities during a rally along a street in New Delhi. File

A banner shows Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, a lawyer believed to be based in Canada designated as a Khalistani terrorist by the Indian authorities during a rally along a street in New Delhi. File | Photo Credit: AFP

Indian law enforcement agencies are probing about 20 criminal cases against Gurpatwant Singh Pannun of the U.S.-based banned outfit Sikhs For Justice (SFJ). Pannun, currently operating from Canada, was designated an “individual terrorist” by the Home Ministry in 2020.

According to government records, the first case against Pannun was registered on December 12, 1990 in Chandigarh under the erstwhile Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act. He was later discharged. Pannun and the SFJ came into the limelight after they started calling for pro-Khalistan “referendums” in different countries.

On July 6, 2017, the Sohana police in Sahibzada Ajit Singh Nagar registered a case involving him, after hoardings of “Referendum 2020” posters and pro-Khalistan slogans on walls were found in several districts of Punjab. In that case, a look-out circular (LoC) was issued against him.

In the same district, under the jurisdiction of the Sadar Banga police station, another case was registered on April 2, 2018, while one attempt-to-murder case with terror angle was registered at the Rangar Nangal police station in Batala. He is an LoC subject in this case as well.

Pannun’s role is also being probed in a case registered on October 19, 2018 at the Sultanwind police station in Amritsar, in which Sukhraj Singh and his associates were accused of having received funds from overseas for the publicity of the so- called 2020-referendum. The National Investigation Agency (NIA) later took over the case.

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In three cases registered by the State special operation cell in Mohali on April 10, 2020, Pannun, his outfit and men were accused of sending seditious pre-recorded phone messages. A large number of people received such automated calls targeting the State and the Central governments. Pre-recorded interactive voice response messages were also used in an attempt to gather feedback from the targeted people. In all these cases, the police have got LoCs issued against Pannun.

Yet another case, subsequently handed over to the NIA, was registered by the Sadar Kurali police on June 19, 2020, and one was lodged with the Bhulath police in Kapurthala on July 2, 2020. The same month, a sedition case, also involving Section 3 of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, was registered in Amritsar.

Under his purported influence, pro-Khalistan flags were hoisted at the Deputy Commissioner office (Faridkot) and slogans written on the court wall. In this regard, a separate case was registered on June 11, 2022. The trial is under way. Three similar incidents were reported from Sadar Ferozepur and Sangrur, and later in Patiala’s Kotwali.

The NIA registered two fresh cases against Pannun and others in July and August 2022.

On September 23 this year, the agency confiscated a portion of one residential building and a land parcel belonging to him in Amritsar and Chandigarh. The action was taken following a directive from the NIA special court in Mohali.

According to the agency, Pannun has been on its radar since 2019. He allegedly played a major role in promoting and commissioning terror acts and activities, and spreading fear and terror in Punjab and elsewhere in the country through his threats and intimidation tactics.

The SFJ was declared an “unlawful association” through a Home Ministry notification dated July 10, 2019. He was also designated an “individual terrorist” on July 1, 2020. The NIA has also accused him of actively exhorting Punjab-based gangsters and youth over the social media to indulge in anti-India activities.

“In recent days, Pannun has been in the news for issuing blatant threats to senior Indian diplomats and government functionaries in public forums. He had also threatened Canadian Hindus a few days, asking them to leave Canada and claiming that they had adopted a ‘jingoistic approach’ by siding with India,” the NIA said.

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