A local court in Kapurthala Thursday granted bail to 65-year-old Joginder Singh Gujjar alias Goga, an NRI from Italy who originally hails from Bholath area of the district and was arrested by Punjab Police on July 2 under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Act (UAPA) for allegedly being an active member of the US-based Sikh For Justice (SFJ), which has been declared an ‘unlawful organization’.
Additional District and Session judge Rajwinder Kaur granted bail to Gujjar after investigative officer in the case, DSP Jatinder Singh, informed the court that they do not have any evidence to prove that that he is a member of the SFJ or any other outfit declared unlawful association by the Centre.
“No evidence that Joginder Singh ever participated or propagated the activities of (US-based terrorist) Gurpatwant Singh Pannu (legal advsior to SFJ) has come into notice till today and investigation is going on to establish the same,” the DSP informed the court. He further submitted that an application has been submitted with bank officials to seek information about the accounts that Joginder Singh holds but the same has not been received so far “and till today, except for hearsay evidence, no substantive evidence against his has been coming on police file”.
Rajiv Puri, counsel for accused, argued that case was registered on the basis of secret information. But, there is neither any direct nor indirect evidence to show that Joginder Singh remained a member of SFJ. “Mere allegations in FIR without any substance are not sufficient to put a person behind bars. The applicant is more than 65 years old, heart patient, and had undergone heart surgery,” he submitted while praying for bail.
A day after Pannu was designated a terrorist by the Union Home Ministry under the UAPA, the Punjab Police had registered two separate FIRs, in Amritsar and Kapurthala on July 2, against Pannu and his associates, including Joginder Singh, who reportedly came to India from Italy in February this year.
The FIR — under sections 10 (a) & (b), 11, 13 (1) and 17 of UAPA, 1967 — was registered against the duo at Bholath police station “based on reliable inputs of Joginder Singh’s entry in India in February 2020,” a police spokesperson had then claimed, adding that Pannu and his associates have been charged with seditious and secessionist activities in the case.
Police had earlier claimed that Joginder Singh, at the behest of Pannu, with whom he is in regular contact, was reportedly providing financial assistance to SFJ operatives based in Punjab and abroad.
Police had further said that he had visited Geneva in November, 2019 to attend and actively participate in the anti-India convention organized by SFJ and actively propagating secessionist activities and promoting activities aimed at the division of India under the banner of ‘Referendum 2020’ in Punjab as well as abroad.
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