The attachment of agricultural land belonging to Gurpatwant Singh Pannu, US-based member of the banned Sikhs for Justice (SFJ), has put the spotlight on his lesser known ancestral village Khankot, located on the outskirts of Amritsar district.
However, except for one family, very few villagers know about the link between Pannu and Khankot.
The Centre on Tuesday ordered the properties of Pannu, a designated terrorist, to be attached under Section 51A of the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.
According to the orders, Pannu owns land parcels of 46 kanal in Khankot and 11 kanal and 13.5 marlas in Sultanwind Suburban Bhainiwal of Amritsar district.
Khankot is Pannu’s ancestral village and Bikramjit Singh has been cultivating his agriculture land on contract for the last 20 years.
“I have never seen Pannu. His mother used to come to the village to collect the contract rent every year. She would tell us that Pannu has become a lawyer in US. But he never came to the village,” Bikramjit Singh told The Indian Express.
“Pannu’s father Mahinder Singh was an officer in the Mandi Board of Punjab. He had three sons. His mother Amarjit Kaur used to come to collect rent after Mahinder’s death. Family has around 18 acre agriculture land in village and also have a residential plot. Khankot is ancestral village of Pannu. After death of Amarjit Kaur, I deal with Pannu’s brother Magwant Singh. I would deposit rent money into bank account of Magwant. I never met of deal with Pannu,” said Bikramjit Singh.
The National Investigation Agency (NIA) has already questioned Bikramjit on his dealings with Pannu’s family. Only Pannu’s share in family property has been attached by the government.
The Khankot sarpanch said, “I am 37 years old and it was only today that I came to know about Pannu’s connection with our village. I don’t think anyone except Bikram Singh, who cultivates his land, knew this.”
Meanwhile, Bhar Singhpura, the native village of designated terrorist Hardeep Singh Nijjar in Phillaur sub-division of Jalandhar district, a villager said they came to know about the Centre’s orders to attach his properties through media. A villager, Amrik Singh Nijjar, who is district president of Bhartiya Kisan Union Kadian, said Nijjar’s family had migrated long ago, but his parents are frequent visitors to the village and had last come before the lockdown.
A panchayat member of the village said Nijjar’s father has four brothers and they own around 8 acres of land. He got a share of land from his father’s uncle’s property.
His father’s uncle was unmarried and had given his land, around 5.5 acres, to Nijjar and his siblings. Villagers said they have not seen Nijjar in the village for the past several years.
Input from Anju Agnihotri Chaba
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