Pro-Khalistan Pannun stands undaunted amid thwarted Indian assassination attempts
ISLAMABAD: Pro-Khalistan General Counsel of Sikhs For Justice (SFJ) Gurpatwant Singh Pannun expressed his fearlessness, asserting that he remained undeterred despite the thwarted plots by Indian authorities to assassinate him on American soil. In his first reaction after the Financial Times (FT) assassination revelations, Pannun, a pro-Khalistan Sikh leader, asserted that India has directly challenged America’s sovereignty and national security by orchestrating a plot to assassinate him on U.S. soil using its death squads.
Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, who is a New York based Attorney at Law said, India’s transnational terrorism has become a direct challenge to the sovereignty of the United States, so I will let the US government respond to the issue of threats to my life on American soil from the Indian operatives. “I am troubled by the fact that the Sikh Community has been under an existential threat since the 1984 Operation Blue Star, the November 1984 Genocide, the decade-long (1984-97) series of extrajudicial killings of Sikhs to suppress the movement for the right to self-determination, and now, the forced suicides of Punjab farmers.” At this time, my focus is not the threats to my life but to organize American Phase of Khalistan Referendum which is scheduled to start from San Francisco CA on January 28, 2024 under the supervision of Punjab Referendum Commission, a panel of independent experts on direct democracy. Believing that independence from Indian occupation and establishment of Khalistan is the only solution, Sikh sovereignists have launched the global Khalistan Referendum initiative to peacefully advance the cause of liberating the Indian held Punjab. Being General Counsel of SFJ my responsibility is to organize the secessionist Khalistan Referendum for liberation of Indian held Punjab and to follow UN Charter and domestic laws of the countries where voting is being organized to ensure compliance with the democratic norms, he said. “Just like Canadian Citizen Hardeep Singh Nijjar’s assassination by the Indian agents on Canadian soil was a challenge to Canada’s sovereignty, the threat to an American citizen on American soil is a Challenge to America’s sovereignty, and I trust that the Biden Administration is more than capable to handle any such challenge.” In a statement after the assassination plot was exposed, the White House said in a statement it was “treating this issue with utmost seriousness”.
Adrienne Watson, the NSC spokesman, said the US had raised the issue with News Delhi “at the senior most levels”. Adrienne Watson said: “We understand the Indian govt is further investigating this issue and will have more to say about it in the coming days. We have conveyed our expectation that anyone deemed responsible should be held accountable.” The FT revealed in a report that the US authorities has thwarted an Indian conspiracy to assassinate pro-Khalistan leader of Sikhs For Justice (SFJ) Gurpatwant Singh Pannun on American soil and issued a warning to India’s government over concerns it was involved in the plot. The intelligence people familiar with the case, who requested anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the intelligence that prompted the warning, told FT the Indian govt was behind the plot to kill Pannun who has been running a worldwide campaign called Khalistan Referendum in which over 1.3 million Sikhs have voted so far. FT was not informed by US sources whether the protest to New Delhi resulted in the plotters abandoning their plan, or if the FBI intervened and thwarted an already in-motion scheme. The US informed some allies about the plot following the murder of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, a Canadian Sikh separatist killed in Vancouver in June.
In September, Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said there were “credible allegations” linking New Delhi to Nijjar’s fatal shooting. The FT said that one person familiar with the situation said the US protest was issued after Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a high-profile state visit to Washington in June. The FT revealed that separate from the diplomatic warning, US federal prosecutors have filed a sealed indictment against at least one alleged perpetrator of the plot in a New York district court, according to people familiar with the case. The US justice department is debating whether to unseal the indictment and make the allegations public or wait until Canada finishes its investigation into Nijjar’s murder, said the paper. Washington shared details of Gurpatwant Singh Pannun case with a wider group of allies after Trudeau went public with details of the Vancouver killing, the combination of which sparked concern among allies about a possible pattern of behaviour. The SFJ has given call to picket Air India flights in Toronto and Vancouver on Dec 1. The group has announced that the American phase of Khalistan Referendum will be launched on Jan 28, 2024 from San Francisco. Several people familiar with the debate inside the Biden administration told the FT officials were aware that any public disclosure of the US plot, and Washington’s protest to New Delhi, would renew questions about India’s reliability as a trusted partner, said the FT. The FT previously reported that Biden raised the Canadian allegations with Modi at the G20 summit in India in September. The White House declined to say whether Biden raised the Pannun case with Modi in September. US ambassador to Canada David Cohen also said in September that Ottawa received information about the Vancouver case from the intelligence-sharing network “Five Eyes”, which comprises the US, UK, Australia, New Zealand and Canada. Only a few months back, Pannun’s close associate and Khalistan Referendum Canada head Hardeep Singh Nijjar was killed on Canadian soil by the Indian secret service agents. Canadian PM Justin Trudeau has directly blamed India.
45-year-old Hardeep Singh Nijjar was fatally shot outside the main Sikh temple in Surrey, a Vancouver suburb with a significant Sikh population. Nijjar was Chief Coordinator of Khalistan Referendum campaign in Canada and a close associate of Gurpatwant Singh Pannun. Nijjar, Pannun, UK based Paramjeet Singh Pamma and others were designated Terrorist by the Indian government in 2020. Nijjar was also President of Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara in British Columbia – Canada’s biggest Gurdawara. The Khalistan Referendum voting campaign is being organised under the supervision of the independent Punjab Referendum Commission (PRC) which will announce the results when all phases are completed. The voting started on October 31, 2021 from London UK and have so far been held in several cities across UK, Geneva Switzerland, Rome and Milan (Italy), Australian cities of Melbourne, Brisbane and Sydney; and Canadian cities of Brampton, Mississauga, Malton (Ontario), and Vancouver (British Columbia).