Tightening its noose around Canada-based ‘designated individual terrorist’ Gurpatwant Singh Pannu, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Saturday confiscated the house and land of the self-styled general counsel of the outlawed Sikhs for Justice (SFJ) outfit in Amritsar and Chandigarh.
This is the first time that the NIA has confiscated the properties of an absconding accused under a relevant section of Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.
The action, which comes as a big boost to the country’s crackdown on the so-called Khalistani “terror and secessionist network being operated from various countries”, including Canada, followed confiscation orders passed by the NIA Special Court, SAS Nagar, Mohali.
Pannu has been on NIA’s radar since 2019, when the anti-terror agency had registered its first case against the terrorist, who has been playing 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 agency said.
Non-bailable warrants of arrest were issued against Pannu by the NIA Special Court on February 3, 2021, and he was declared a “Proclaimed Offender (PO)” on November 29 last year.
NIA investigations have revealed that Pannu’s organisation, Sikhs for Justice, was misusing cyberspace to radicalise gullible youth and to instigate them to undertake terrorist crimes and activities.
It further emerged during the NIA investigations that Pannu was the main handler and controller of the SFJ. Sikhs for Justice was declared as an “Unlawful Association” by the Government of India, vide a notification dated July 10, 2019.
“Pannu, who was declared a ‘designated individual terrorist’ by the Centre through a notification dated July 1, 2020, has been actively exhorting Punjab-based gangsters and youth over the social media to fight for the cause of independent state of Khalistan, challenging the sovereignty, integrity and security of the country,” the NIA said in a statement.
Recently, Pannu 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 back, asking them to leave Canada and claiming that they had adopted a “jingoistic approach” by siding with India.
The properties confiscated on Saturday include 46 kanal agricultural land situated in Village Khankot, Amritsar, and 1/4th share of House Number 2033, Sector 15/C, 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 (UAPA), 1967, in the case RC-19/2020/NIA/DLI dated April 5, 2020, registered under sections various sections of the Indian Penal Code and relevant provisions of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.
The case was originally registered as FIR number 152 dated October 19, 2018, at Police Station Sultanwind, Amritsar (City) and later transferred to the NIA.
A total of 10 accused, including Pannu, have so far been charge-sheeted in the case.