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New Delhi: The International Criminal Police Organisation, or Interpol, has rejected India’s request to issue a Red Corner Notice on terror charges against Khalistan separatist Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, the Indian Express reported.
Interpol, rejecting India’s second request to issue a Red Corner Notice against Pannun, has said that Indian authorities failed to provide sufficient information to support their case, the newspaper has learnt.
Pannun is the Canada-based founder and legal advisor of pro-Khalistan outfit Sikhs for Justice (SFJ) – a US-based group seeking a separate homeland for Sikhs – a “Khalistan” in Punjab.
The SJF was banned by India in 2019 as an unlawful association.
Sources told the newspaper that Interpol also raised concerns over the “misuse” of Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) to target minority groups and rights activists without “respecting” their right to due process and a fair trial.
However, despite acknowledging that Pannun is a “high-profile Sikh separatist”, and that SFJ is a group that calls for an independent Khalistan, it said that his activities have a “clear political dimension”. And therefore, it cannot be the subject of a Red Corner Notice according to Interpol’s Constitution.
The Commission for the Control of Interpol’s Files had conveyed its decision to India in August. This was done after an application was filed by Pannun and the subsequent response to that by Indian authorities.
According to the report, the National Central Bureau (NCB), on behalf of the National Investigation Agency, made a request for the Red Corner Notice on May 21, 2021.
Sources told the daily that the Commission had said in June-end that “insufficient information” has been provided by the NCB to show the “terrorist nature of the crime” and Pannun’s “possible active and meaningful involvement in terrorist activities”.
When the Indian Express asked the NIA about Interpol’s move, the agency spokesperson was unavailable for comment.
What India told the Commission
Sources told the Indian Express that in its submission to Interpol Commission, India cited an arrest warrant issued against Pannun by a Special NIA court in Mohali on February 3, 2021.
The NIA investigation had alleged that Pannun had “recruited”, “radicalised” and “tasked” other accused through as associate identified as Nihal Singh alias Fateh Singh on social media platforms to carry out terrorist acts.
These acts, according to India, included “killing of prominent Indian leaders, burning of business installations, procuring weapons for carrying out terror acts” and “recruitment” in their “terror gang”.
It also submitted that these acts were allegedly funded from abroad by Pannun “through his proxies” by various modes of money transfer.
Pannun, however, in his application to the Commission, rejected the charges and described India’s request as a move to “silence activists”, sources told the daily.
He also denied that SFJ was a terrorist organisation.
India has declared Panun as one of the “designated terrorists” under the UAPA.
As per another report by the Indian Express, between July 2017 and August 28 this year, Pannun was booked in 22 cases in Punjab over terror and sedition. In December 1990, he was was booked in a case of sedition (IPC section 124A) and offences under the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act in Chandigarh.
In the latest case in August, he was booked under sedition and other charges in Jalandhar, after SFJ activists inscribed a pro-Khalistan slogan on a mirror over the statue of slain Punjab chief minister Beant Singh.