scorecardresearch
US-based pro-Khalistani group issues threat to Assam CM Himanta Biswa Sarma

US-based pro-Khalistani group issues threat to Assam CM Himanta Biswa Sarma

Around a dozen journalists in Assam received a recorded voice call, which issued a warning to Assam CM Himanta Biswa Sarma for allegedly torturing pro-Khalistani supporters lodged in Dibrugarh jail. The voice in the message identified himself as Gurpatwan Singh Pannu, a US-based lawyer associated with Sikhs for Justice, a banned outfit.

advertisement
Gurpatwant Singh Pannu (L) and Amritpal Singh (R) Gurpatwant Singh Pannu (L) and Amritpal Singh (R)

In an unusual development, around a dozen journalists in Assam received a recorded voice call, which issued a warning to Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma for allegedly torturing pro-Khalistani supporters lodged in Dibrugarh jail. The voice in the message claimed that it was from Gurpatwan Singh Pannu, General Counsel of Sikhs for Justice (SFJ), an organisation which allegedly engages in separatist activities against India.

 

The caller, who identified himself as a supporter of pro-Khalistani separatist leader Amritpal Singh, said: “Pro-Khalistan supporters Sikhs imprisoned in Assam have been tortured. Listen very carefully CM Sarma, the fight is between Pro-Khalistan Sikhs and the Indian regime and Modi. Sarma do not fall prey to this violence. We are seeking liberation of Punjab from Indian occupation through a peaceful democratic process of Khalistan referendum. Sharma, if your government is going to torture and harass the six, you will be held accountable. Message is from Gurpatwan Singh Pannu, General Counsel of Sikhs for Justice (sic)”

 

On March 18, in a major crackdown against pro-Khalistan propagator Amritpal Singh and his supporters, the Punjab Police arrested 78 persons, linked to Amritpal and his organisation Waris Punjab De (WPD). But Amritpal slipped away and the hunt to arrest him continues till date. Meanwhile eight of the arrested, who have close links with Amritpal including his uncle Harjeet Singh, have been sent to Assam’s high-security Dibrugarh jail. The latest to be sent to Dibrugarh has been identified as Varinder Singh, a bodyguard of Amritpal. The voice in the phone call, threatening the Assam CM, was referring to those kept in Dibrugarh jail.

 

Pannun, a New York-based lawyer, in his fifties, is originally from Khankot village, near Amritsar. He graduated in law from Panjab University. He was the driving force behind the “Referendum 2020” campaign, which sought to understand if Punjabis across, at least, 20 countries wanted a separate state. He has also allegedly been found in contact with other pro-Khalistani organisations such as Babbar Khalsa International, Khalistan Tiger Force, International Sikh Youth Federation. He has issued an appeal to Punjab-based gangsters and youth to fight for Khalistan’s independence. He has called for a separate Sikh state on the model of Catalonia, Spain. He also travelled to Spain to research the 2017 referendum on self-determination in Catalonia, Spain. 

 

Pannun was among the founders of the US-based SFJ, which claims to be “an international advocacy and human rights group”. Set up in 2007, it seeks to achieve “self-determination for the Sikh people in their historic homeland in the region of Indian held Punjab and establishing a sovereign state, popularly known as Khalistan”. The Union government imposed a ban on SFJ in 2019. Nearly two dozen FIRs have been lodged against Pannun in Punjab. Last year, Interpol has rejected a request by India to issue a Red Notice against Khalistani separatist Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, saying Indian authorities have not provided sufficient information on him.

 

Also read : Fugitive Amritpal Singh refuses to surrender in his second video