The government on Tuesday ordered attachment of properties belonging to two designated “terrorists” of the Khalistan movement under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA). The properties, located in Punjab, belong to Gurpatwant Singh Pannun and Hardeep Singh Nijjar of Sikhs For Justice (SFJ) organisation.
The attachment, sources said, will be carried out by the National Investigation Agency (NIA), which is probing a case against SFJ in relation to its online campaign ‘Sikh Referendum 2020’ for a separate Khalistan nation.
This is the first attachment of property belonging to a ‘terrorist’ under the recently amended UAPA. The attachments have been made under Section 51A of the Act.
The government had declared US-based Pannun and Nijjar as terrorists under the amended UAPA on July 1. On July 5, the government blocked 40 websites of SFJ. The organisation had earlier been declared an “unlawful association” by the Ministry of Home Affairs.
According to the NIA, the properties ordered to be attached include 57 kanals of land in Khankot, Amritsar, belonging to Pannun and 11 kanals of land in Bhar village, Singhpura, Pillaur in Jalandhar, belonging to Nijjar.
“NIA is investigating case… relating to a concerted campaign launched by secessionist organisation ‘Sikhs for Justice’ under the banner of ‘Sikh Referendum 2020’ for creation of so called ‘Khalistan’. NIA during the course of investigation had identified immovable properties belonging to Gurpatwant Singh Pannun in District Amritsar, and Hardeep Singh Nijjar in District Jalandhar, and moved Government for attachment of these properties under the provisions of the UA(P)Act, 1967,” a statement from the agency said.
It said that SFJ is headed by Pannun and is carrying on its campaign through social media. “This outfit is also trying to hold meetings at certain places in the US and other countries to instigate and mobilise diaspora for their illegal activities. Government of India has already declared Sikhs for Justice as an ‘Unlawful Association’ under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 vide its notification dated 10.07.2019,” NIA said.
Among those declared terrorists on July 1 by the MHA were chief of Babbar Khalsa International Wadhawa Singh Babbar; chief of International Sikh Youth Federation Lakhbir Singh; Chief of Khalistan Zindabad Force Ranjeet Singh; and Chief of Khalistan Commando Force Paramjit Singh. All are based in Pakistan.
Also on the list were certain Khalistani terrorists in Germany. These included KZF members Bhupinder Singh Bhinda and Gurmeet Singh Bagga. Paramjit Singh, the UK-based chief of Babbar Khalsa International, was also on the list.
“These individuals are involved in various acts of terrorism from across the border and from foreign soil. They have been relentless in their nefarious efforts of destabilizing the country, by trying to revive militancy in Punjab through their anti national activities and through their support to and involvement in the Khalistan Movement,” an MHA statement had said.
The Centre had amended the UAPA in August 2019 to include the provision of designating an individual as a terrorist. Prior to this amendment, only organisations could be designated as terrorist organisations.
In first orders under the new Act, in September last year, the government had declared LeT’s Hafiz Saeed and Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, JeM’s Masood Azhar and underworld don Dawood Ibrahim as terrorists.