By Rajnish Singh
NEW DELHI: In a step ahead to tighten noose against US-based secessionist group Sikhs for Justice (SFJ), a two-member National Investigation Agency (NIA) team is camping in Canada to “liaise with the authorities in connection with the pro-Khalistan cases” registered with the agency, said top sources. The NIA team, comprising an Inspector General rank officer, will be meeting with concerned authorities during its visit to Canada emphasing the execution of Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) requests and faster sharing of information with the NIA.
Sources said that it is NIA’s first visit to Canada in connection with the cases registered against SFJ, a pro-Khalistani group that supports the secession of Punjab from India as Khalistan.
Top sources told ANI, “A two-member NIA team is in Canada to liaise with the authorities in connection with the pro-Khalistan cases registered with the agency”.
“The deliberations would entail modes to execute MLAT requests and faster sharing of information with the NIA,” NIA sources told ANI.
From actors to singers and farm activists to journalists, NIA has issued summons over four dozen persons in connection with a case registered against the SFJ last year.
On December 15 last year, the NIA registered a case in New Delhi under Section 120 B (Criminal Conspiracy), 124 A (Sedition), 153 A (Promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc., and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony), 153 B (Imputations, assertions prejudicial to national-integration) of Indian Penal Code and under sections of Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.
Incidentally, the case was registered around a fortnight after farm activists reached the Delhi border to lodge their protest against the farm acts.
According to the FIR registered by the NIA, “Sikhs for Justice, an unlawful association under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and other Khalistani terrorist outfits including but not limited to Babbar Khalsa International, Khalistan Tiger Force and Khalistan Zindabad Force along with their frontal organisations, have entered into a conspiracy to create an atmosphere of fear and lawlessness and to cause disaffection in people and to incite them towards rising in rebellion against the government of India. In furtherance of the above conspiracy, huge funds are being collected abroad for on-ground campaign and propaganda against missions in countries like the USA, UK, Canada, Germany and so forth.”
The FIR stated that the “campaigns are being spearheaded by designated terrorists — Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, Paramjit Singh Pamma, Hardeep Singh Nijjar and others”.
“It has also been learnt that large amounts of funds so collected are being sent through NGOs to pro-Khalistani elements based in India, to undertake terrorist acts, and to strike terror in the people of India. SFJ leadership has planned large-scale disruptive activities intended to damage government and private property and also disrupt supplies and services essential to the life of the community in India. SFJ and other pro-Khalistani elements involved in this conspiracy, through their incessant social media campaign and otherwise, are radicalising and recruiting impressionable youth to agitate and undertake terrorist acts for the creation of the separate nation of Khalistan after secession from Indian territory,” it added.
Formed in 2007, SFJ, is seeking a separate homeland for Sikhs — a “Khalistan” in Punjab. SFJ legal advisor Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, a law graduate from Panjab University and currently an attorney at law in the US, is the face of SFJ and its legal adviser.
Pannun had launched the secessionist Sikh Referendum 2020 campaign, an initiative that eventually became defunct. He was among the nine individuals designated as “terrorists” by the Union Ministry of Home Affairs last July.
The SFJ was banned in India in 2019 as an unlawful association.
NIA had filed a charge sheet against 10 Khalistani terrorists in the SFJ cases including designated terrorist Pannun on December 18 last year.
Besides Pannun, who is a resident of New York, the NIA charge sheet has named Pargat Singh, Sukhraj Singh, Bikramjit Singh, Manjeet Singh, Jatinder Singh, Gurwinder Singh, Harpreet Singh, Kuldeep Singh and Harmeet Singh.
The charge sheet was filed in connection with a case related to a series of acts of violence including acts of arson in Punjab during the year 2017-18, carrying out propaganda activities both online and on-ground campaigns in support of the SFJ and Referendum-2020.
These acts were committed by a gang of radicalised Sikh youth under the direction and financial assistance from SFJ handlers located abroad as part of an organised conspiracy by the accused for launching a concerted secessionist campaign for the creation of ‘Khalistan’.
The case was initially registered by the Punjab Police in Amritsar and the NIA took over the investigation on April 5 last year. (ANI)