NIA probing Khalistani funding for protests against India overseas

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) has registered a case to investigate alleged funding of Khalistani terrorist groups abroad for organising on-ground campaigns, and demonstrations outside Indian missions in the UK, the US, Canada, Germany and other countries, people familiar with the development said.

According to the case registered last week, Khalistani elements based in India are also receiving funds through non-governmental organisations (NGOs), the people added, requesting anonymity.

The agency has named as accused US-based Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, UK- based Paramjit Singh Pamma and Canada resident Hardeep Singh Nijjar who, under the banner of Sikhs for Justice (SFJ), are collecting funds for a rebellion against the Indian government, according to the first information report (FIR).

NIA has, for the first time, given the addresses of the three: Pannun (167-05, Powel Boulevard, Unit-22 White Stone, New York), Pamma (41, Bowden Road, Smethwick, UK) and Nijjar (8193, 143-A Street, Surrey BC, Canada and 1418, 142 Street, 72 Avenue, BC Canada).

The people familiar with the development cited above said the fresh FIR will empower NIA to investigate SFJ’s activities in various countries. If required, an NIA team may even visit these countries soon to probe the source of funding of the Khalistani groups.

This is NIA’s second FIR for conducting an investigation abroad after an amendment to the NIA Act last year that empowered the agency to probe terror activities against Indians and Indian interests overseas. Earlier this year, the agency filed a case to investigate a terror attack on a gurdwara in Kabul on March 25 in which 27 Sikh devotees, including an Indian, were killed.

According to the latest FIR, “as part of the conspiracy, huge funds are being collected abroad for on-ground campaign and propaganda against government of India including staging demonstrations outside Indian missions in the US, the UK, Germany, Canada and so forth. These campaigns are being spearheaded by designated terrorists Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, Paramjit Singh Pamma, Hardeep Singh Nijjar and others”. HT has reviewed a copy of the FIR.

“It has also been learnt that large amounts so collected are being sent through NGOs to pro-Khalistani elements in India, to undertake terrorist acts and to strike terror in the people of India,” the FIR said. It added: “SFJ leadership has planned large scale disruptive activities to damage government and private property and also disrupt supplies and essential services to the life of community of India”.

For this, the agency said, SFJ and other pro-Khalistani elements, through an incessant social media campaign and otherwise, are radicalising and recruiting impressionable young people to campaign for and carry out terrorist acts for the creation of a separate nation of Khalistan.

Earlier this month, the central agency filed a charge-sheet against Pannun, Nijjar and Pamma along with 13 others in a separate 2019 case to investigate SFJ’s role in India.

SFJ has been banned by the ministry of home affairs (MHA;) properties of Pannun, Nijjar and Pamma in India have been ordered to be seized.

Intelligence agencies have alerted the government that Pakistan is actively supporting their activities and providing them funds.

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