NIA books pro-Khalistan leader Pannun over video threatening Air India
Gurpatwant Singh Pannun of the banned terror organisation Sikhs for Justice issued a video threatening Air India with a global blockade and closure of operations from 19 November
The National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Monday said it has registered a fresh case against “listed individual terrorist” Gurpatwant Singh Pannun of the banned terror organisation Sikhs for Justice (SFJ) over his latest viral video threatening passengers flying Air India with a global blockade and closure of the airline's operations from 19 November.
An NIA spokesperson in Delhi said the agency has booked Pannun under several sections of the IPC and the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).
The official said Pannun, the self-proclaimed 'general counsel’ of the outlawed SFJ, had issued a threatening video message on various social media platforms urging Sikhs not to fly Air India on and after 19 November, claiming a threat to their lives if they did so. Pannun also threatened that Air India would not be allowed to operate in the world.
These assertions and threats triggered a high alert as well as investigations by security forces in Canada, India and certain other countries where Air India flies.
In his video messages released on 4 November, Pannun had urged Sikhs to stop flying Air India on and after 19 November, citing potential threat to their lives. He also issued a warning to the Indian government that "the Indira Gandhi International Airport would remain closed on 19 November".
Located in New Delhi, IGIA is among the world’s busiest airports. The NIA official said as part of his concerted plan to promote acts of terror in India and revive terrorism here, Pannun has been creating a false narrative around issues prevailing in Punjab, especially with regard to the Sikh religion, by promoting enmity between Sikhs in the country and other communities.
“The latest threat is in line with the same narrative, which Pannun has actively promoted in the past by threatening and attempting to disrupt essential transportation network systems, including the Railways, as well as thermal power plants in India,” the official stated.
In September, Gujarat Police registered an FIR against Pannun for threatening to turn the ICC World Cup 2023, which began in India on 5 October at Ahmedabad's Narendra Modi Stadium, into a “world terror cup”.
In its FIR, the cyber crime branch of Ahmedabad Police said people from across the country had received Pannun's threat as a pre-recorded voice message sent from an international number.
On 10 July 2019, the Union ministry of home affairs had banned the SFJ as an ‘unlawful association’ under the UAPA. On 1 July 2020, Pannun was listed as an ‘individual terrorist’ by the Indian government. Pannun has been under the NIA’s lens since 2019, when the anti-terror agency registered its first case against him. In September 2023, the NIA had confiscated his share of the house and land in Amritsar and Chandigarh.
Non-bailable warrants of arrest were issued against Pannun by the NIA Special Court on 3 February 2021, and he was declared a proclaimed offender (PO) on 29 November 2022.