New Delhi, September 23, 2023 – The National Investigation Agency (NIA) has moved decisively by seizing the assets belonging to Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, a pro-Khalistani leader based in Canada, in Punjab, as reported by NDTV. This action follows Pannun’s recent threats against Hindus residing in Canada, where he urged them to leave the country. In the meantime, India’s relations with Canada have deteriorated following a diplomatic dispute surrounding the murder of another Khalistani terrorist, Hardeep Singh Nijjar, in June.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, on Monday, made allegations of India’s involvement in the killing of Nijjar on June 18 in Surrey, British Columbia. Subsequently, Indian intelligence agencies issued warnings to Indians in Canada regarding potential threats from Khalistani groups, including concerns about possible targeting of Indian businesses, staff, and temples. These allegations have added strain to bilateral relations, which were already facing challenges due to the presence of pro-Khalistan elements in Canada.
The NIA has reportedly taken control of Pannun’s residence in Chandigarh, Punjab, and seized approximately 46 kanals of agricultural land in Khankot, located in the Amritsar district.
Pannun, who is the founder of the banned organization Sikhs for Justice (SFJ), has allegedly been propagating extremist views against India through the promotion of the “Khalistan referendum.” The Indian government had previously expressed its concerns to Canada regarding SFJ’s activities, terming them as “unfortunate.”
Pannun’s Threats Against Hindus in Canada
In a recent video where he issued threats, Pannun claimed that pro-Khalistan Sikhs “have always been loyal to Canada, and they have always stood by Canada.” This video surfaced just two days after Trudeau suggested a “potential link” between Indian government agents and the murder of Nijjar. This led to reciprocal expulsions of senior diplomats from both countries.
Pannun is the founder of SFJ and has been advocating for a Sikh state called Khalistan, separate from India. In 2020, India’s Union Home Affairs Ministry declared him a terrorist and sought an Interpol red corner notice against him. However, Interpol reportedly rejected India’s request twice, citing insufficient information. His organization has also conducted the “Khalistan referendum” in Canada and Australia.
In the backdrop of these developments, the NIA’s prompt action in seizing Pannun’s assets underscores the Indian government’s commitment to addressing security concerns and upholding national integrity. The situation with Canada remains sensitive, and the full impact of these events on bilateral relations is yet to unfold.