June 27, 2020 11:56:20 am
Around 20 months after the Amritsar police booked Pargat Singh (23) in a sedition case for his alleged links with outlawed Sikhs for Justice (SFJ) radical outfit, the NIA’s move to arrest him has brought the focus on 18 others named in the same 2018 sedition case. No police action was initiated against these 18 after the FIR was lodged in 2018. They are now believed to be on NIA’s radar after Pargat’s arrest, who is alleged to be the key recruiter of radical Sikh youths for SFJ.
While Punjab Police had booked 30 accused in original case, it had submitted challan only against 11 at an Amritsar court in March 2019, keeping 19 — including Pargat Singh and banned outfit Sikh For Justice’s Gurpatwant Singh Pannu — out of it.
However, NIA told Mohali court earlier this week that Pargat Singh was one of the key conspirators and recruiter of radical Sikh youth while working under the directions of handlers located abroad to further the activities of SFJ (Sikhs For Justice) which has already been declared an unlawful association.
Pargat Singh (23), a Sikh priest from village Tarmala in district Sri Muktsar Sahib, was produced before the NIA Special Court, Mohali on June 23 and was remanded to NIA custody till June 29.
His arrest also came months after Sikh for Justice was banned in India in July 2019.
The original case was registered at Sultanwind Police Station, Amritsar (City) vide FIR No 152 dated October 19, 2018.
The case was subsequently re-registered by NIA on April 5, 2020.
According to the NIA FIR, “A module had been motivated by one Javed Khan, an ISI handler based in Pakistan for conducting subversive activities and pasting of Khalistan/Referendum-2020 posters/banners at different locations in Punjab and New Delhi.”
The agency in a recent statement added that the “case is related to series of acts of violence including acts of arson in Punjab during the year 2017-18, carrying out of propaganda activities both online and on ground, campaigns in support of Referendum 2020/ SFJ including pasting of posters in Delhi and various parts of Punjab, committed by groups of radicalised youths under direction of and financial assistance from SFJ handlers located abroad.
Investigation has revealed that arrested accused persons, including Pargat Singh, had received funds from their foreign handlers.”
Intriguingly, Punjab Police, while investigating case till April 2020, had not even visited the house of Pargat Singh on single occasion after filing the FIR in October 2018.
“There is no criminal record of Pargat Singh at our police station. We were never approached by any police team to raid the house of Pargat Singh,” said SHO, Lambi, under whose jurisdiction Pargat’s village Tarmala falls.
Apart from Pargat Singh, there were total 10 accused in India, who were not interrogated by Punjab Police during last 20 months. These include Balwant Singh from village Waring, Tarn Taran, Sandeep Singh, Harjeet Singh, Davinder Singh, Sukhbir Singh and Bhupinder Singh, all five from Srinagar, Sunny, Tarsem Singh, Lovepreet Singh, and Gurbhej Singh all from Dera Ajnala Amritsar.
Ajnala Dera is run by Bhai Amrik Singh Ajnala, who was appointed Takht Kesgarh Sahib Anandpur Sahib Jathedar during the 2015 Sarbat Khalsa at Amritsar.
“Most of the accused were students at Damdami Taksal faction being run by Amrik Singh Ajnala in Ajnala town. We never raided Ajnala Dera. Amrik Singh was also not questioned. Four accused Sunny, Tarsem Singh, Lovepreet Singh, and Gurbhej Singh, not nominated in challan, couldn’t be arrested,” said former ACP, Amritsar, Palwinder Singh, who looked after the probe in sedition case before handing over the case to NIA. Palwinder was recently transferred as DSP Jalalabad in Fazilka.
He added: “We raided homes of all these accused, not mentioned in the challan, from time to time, but we couldn’t arrest them. However, they were not declared proclaimed offenders.”
As soon as NIA took over the case, Amrik Singh Ajnala was questioned in Amritsar on June 23. “We have handed over case to NIA because it was related to Interpol. NIA can investigate and make efforts for arrest of foreign nationals,” said DSP Palwinder Singh. Apart from SFJ’s face Gurpatwant Singh Pannu, who is in the US, there are five accused from South Africa, one each from UAE and Kuwait.
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