As Delhi Police Sunday arrested two men, 16 days after they allegedly raised Khalistan flag atop Moga DC office and desecrated the Tricolour, the families of the two suspects blamed Gurpatwant Singh Pannu, the legal advisor of the banned Sikhs for Justice (SFJ) for “spoiling the lives” of their children ‘in the name of Khalistan’.
One of the accused, Jaspal Singh (27) is the son of Punjab Police’s Inspector Chamkaur Singh.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Chamkaur Singh, said his son has been arrested because he did took part in the act. “My son has not been implicated falsely. He should be punished. But we demand that Pannu should also be arrested and given the strictest possible punishment. He is the one who is misleading the youth in Punjab in the name of Khalistan and spoiling their lives. He has spoiled my son’s life too”.
Chmkaur Singh said that Jaspal was an aspiring kabaddi player, but an injury to the spine during a match ended his dream.
“He was a district level player but an injury broke his back and after surgery he could not run again. That made him frustrated and he started consuming liquor. He started misbehaving with me too. He would even toss off my turban in anger… I stopped saying anything to him. He was earning Rs 10,000-12,000 a month through his internet cafe in the village (Rauli) where Inderjeet Singh (the other accused arrested by Delhi Police) used to come. They used to spend a lot of time together. None from our family has ever shown any inclination towards Khalistan, neither discussed it at home. I have no idea how he got into this trap set by Pannu…Maybe just for money… He never attended any pro-Khalistan dharna or gathering. He was to get married on October 1,” said Chamkaur Singh.
Of the three accused arrested in the case — Jaspal and Akashdeep Singh are cousins, while Inderjeet (32) is their friend. The residents of Moga’s village Rauli, they allegedly raised a saffron flag with ‘Khalistan’ written on it, atop Moga DC office on August 14, allegedly on the call of Pannu, a designated terrorist, who had announced a reward of $2,500. The trio also allegedly cut the strings of the Indian national flag and desecrated it. Akashdeep (19), a diploma student, who allegedly shot the video, was arrested on August 20.
Inderjeet’s family too said that Pannu “lured and misled” their son. His father Jugraj Singh is a small farmer with 2 acres of land, while Inderjeet used to sell some products online.
Kirandeep Kaur, Inderjeet’s sister, told The Indian Express that he was making Rs 35,000-40,000 a month by selling products online. “We have no idea from where this Khalistan nonsense came into his mind. He has not been implicated falsely, we can recognize him in the videos. But he was misled and lured. He did this for easy money probably. We demand arrest of Pannu who is spoiling lives of youths in Punjab in the name of Khalistan. My brother used to visit Jaspal’s internet cafe for getting documents typed and other online works. We had no idea that they were getting inclined towards such activities. My father and mother are devastated. How will they fight this legal battle at this age”.
Pannu nominated as accused to FIR: SSP
Moga SSP Harmanbir Singh Gill, meanwhile, said that they have nominated Pannu as an accused in the FIR already registered against three others.
“We will interrogate the duo arrested today to know if they received any money from Pannu or not,” he said, adding that Akashdeep had denied receiving any money.
The SSP said that the accused used to look for material regarding Khalistan online at Jaspal’s cafe. “They chanced upon a video in which Pannu exhorts youth to raise Khalistani flags atop government buildings and get rewarded with USD 2500. The accused contacted a WhatsApp number floated in Pannu’s video to seek more details. A recce of the place was done on August 13 around 01:30 pm by Jaspal and Inderjeet. In the evening on August 13, Akashdeep received calls from Jaspal and Inderjeet on WhatsApp, about hoisting the Khalistan flag at DC office. They assembled around 6:30 am in the morning of August 14 and left on two motorcycles from village Rauli. They reached the DC office around 8 am and Akashdeep was instructed by Jaspal and Inderjeet to make a video of the flag being hoisted. Jaspal and Inderjeet went inside and raised the Khalistan flag and on their way back, they cut the rope of Indian National Flag and took it along with them. The video was transferred from Akashdeep’s phone to Jaspal’s phone who further transferred forwarded it on the WhatsApp number given by Pannu.”
SSP said that a Look Out Circular (LOC) was issued against the Jaspal and Inderjeet accused and the Special Cell of Delhi Police arrested them Sunday.
During the probe, it was also found that one Jagga, resident of village Pakhowal, also pushed Jaspal and Inderjeet to watch pro-Khalistan videos online and vote for SFJ’s Referendum 2020 campaign. Both also went to meet him. They were also allegedly contacted by one Rana from the US, who delivered pro-Khalistan lectures on YouTube.
The trio has been booked under the sections 115 (abetment of offence punishable with death or imprisonment of life), 121 (waging or attempting to wage war, or abetting waging of war, against Government of India), 121-A (conspiracy to commit offences punishable by section 121), 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 IPC and section 2 of the Prevention of Insult to National Honors Act, 1971.
Moga SP (investigation) Jagatpreet Singh said that Pannu’s name has been nominated to the FIR as after Akashdeep’s interrogation, he has confessed doing the act for money in response to Pannu’s video and a subsequent call to the WhatsApp number given in the video.
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