The National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Wednesday filed a chargesheet against 16 people based abroad and associated with the secessionist organisation Sikhs for Justice (SFJ) which has called for the creation of a so-called separate state of Khalistan under the banner ‘Sikh Referendum 2020’.
Those named in the chargesheet include Gurpatwant Singh Pannun from the US, Hardeep Singh Nijjar of Canada and Paramjit Singh Pamma, a resident of the UK. The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) had in July proscribed these three as terrorists under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).
During the course of the investigation, an NIA spokesperson said, “the NIA identified immovable properties belonging to terrorist Pannun in Amritsar and terrorist Hardeep Singh Nijjar in Jalandhar. Based on the request of NIA, the Government of India, Ministry of Home Affairs, in exercise of powers conferred under Section 51-A of Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act 1967, has ordered attachment of these properties.”
Pamma — who heads Babbar Khalsa International, another Sikh separatist outfit — was also recently spotted at a rally in London held in support of the farmers protesting in New Delhi. Intelligence agencies have warned of an attempt by the SFJ and other Khalistani elements to hijack the farmers’ protest at the behest of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), Pakistan’s intelligence agency.
The others named in the charge sheet are Avtar Singh Pannun, Harpreet Singh, Amardeep Singh Purewal, Harjaap Singh, Sarabjit Singh and S Himmat Singh (all from the US); Gurpreet Singh Baagi, Sarabjit Singh Bannur, Kulwant Singh Mothada, Dupinderjit Singh and Kulwant Singh (from the UK) and J S Dhaliwal and Jatinder Singh Grewal (from Canada). These people, according to the NIA, are all members of SFJ, which has been declared as an ‘Unlawful Association’ under the UAPA.
The NIA in its statement said, “Investigation in the case has revealed that Sikhs for Justice, a secessionist outfit floated in the garb of ‘Human Rights advocacy group’ with its offices in various foreign countries like the USA, Canada, the UK, Australia etc, is a frontal organization of Khalistan terrorist outfits operating from foreign soils including Pakistan.”
NIA officials said that under this campaign numerous social media accounts on Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, YouTube and a number of other websites have been launched. These are being used to propagate sedition as well as enmity on the grounds of region and religion, to radicalise impressionable youth, to cause disturbance to peace and harmony and to raise funds for terrorist activities.
The NIA also accused Sikhs for Justice also of instigating Sikh personnel in the Indian Army to rise up in mutiny and of trying to radicalise Kashmiri youth and openly supporting the secession of Kashmir from India.
The chargesheet comes at a time when agencies suspect that Khalistani groups are routing crores of rupees to mobilise people for the farmers’ protest taking place in New Delhi. “They are looking for a toe hold, hoping to cash in on the anti-government sentiment with regards to the farm laws and convert it for their own secessionist agenda,” an Intelligence Bureau (IB) official said.