The National Investigation Agency (NIA) on September 23 confiscated the properties of “designated individual terrorist” Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, self-styled general counsel of the United State-based proscribed outfit Sikhs for Justice (SFJ), in Punjab’s Amritsar and Chandigarh. He is currently operating from Canada.
The action has been taken against Pannun following the confiscation orders passed by an NIA special court in Mohali, Punjab. This is the first time that properties of an absconding accused of the NIA, have been confiscated
He has been on the NIA’s radar since 2019, when the agency had registered its first case alleging his major role in promoting and commissioning terror acts and activities, and spreading fear and terror in Punjab and elsewhere in the country through threats and intimidation tactics.
On February 3, 2021, non-bailable warrants of arrest were issued against Pannun by the NIA court and he was declared a “Proclaimed Offender” on November 29 last year.
According to the NIA, its probe has revealed that the SFJ was misusing the cyberspace to radicalise gullible youth and instigate them to undertake terrorist activities. He was the main handler and controller of the outfit, which was declared an unlawful association by the Ministry of Home Affairs vide a notification dated July 10, 2019. Pannun was designated an “individual terrorist” on July 1, 2020.
He has been accused of exhorting Punjab-based gangsters and youth over the social media to indulge in pro-Khalistan activities, challenging the sovereignty, integrity and security of the country.
“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,” said the NIA.
The properties confiscated by the agency include 46 kanal agricultural land located in Khankot village of Amritsar, and 1/4th share of a house in Chandigarh. “These properties were earlier attached following orders passed by the government in two different cases. The properties have now been confiscated on the court’s orders under Section 33(5) of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act…,” the NIA said, adding that it was related to the case registered on April 5, 2020.
The case was originally registered on October 19, 2018, by the Sultanwind police in Amritsar (City) and later taken over by the NIA, which filed a chargesheet against 10 accused persons, including Pannun.