Chandigarh: The Canadian government has detained 10 suspects while boarding flights at the Toronto Airport in in the backdrop of threats by Khalistani leader Gurpatwant Singh Pannun to passengers flying in Air India and the airline, sources said. Sources said that the 10 suspects were detained by security personnel while trying to board an Air India flight at Canada's Toronto Airport after Gurpatwant Pannu's threat on Monday.
Security personnel took the suspects along with them for questioning. It was not known whether the suspects were planning to hijack the Air India flight to execute the plan by Pannun, who issued threats to the passengers flying in Air India flights and the airline itself. Pannun, a designated 'listed individual terrorist' before the Indian agencies, released a video message on Nov 4 asking Sikhs to avoid flying on Air India planes on and after November 19, while citing a potential threat to their lives.
Pannu had also threatened to target Delhi's Indira Gandhi International Airport on November 19 sending the security grid in a tizzy. Following the threats, the National Investigation Agecny (NIA) on Monday registered a case against Gurpatwant Pannu, the founder of Sikhs for Justice, for threatening the passengers flying and Air India Airlines with a global blockade and closure of the operations of the airline from 19th November. The NIA has registered a case against Pannu under sections 120B, 153A and 506 of the IPC. Apart from this, a case has also been registered under sections 10, 12, 16, 17, 18, 18B and 20 of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act.
In a statement issued in this regard, NIA said that Pannun, “the self-proclaimed General Counsel of the outlawed unlawful Association, Sikhs for Justice (SFJ), is in the eye of the storm yet again following the release and circulation of video messages on various social media platforms urging the Sikhs not to fly on Air India planes on and after 19th November claiming threat to their lives if they flew on Air India”.
“Pannun also threatened that Air India would not be allowed to operate in the world. Pannun's assertions and threats have triggered a high alert as well as investigations by security forces in Canada, India and certain other countries where Air India flies,” the NIA added. “As part of his concerted plan to promote terror acts in India to revive terrorism in India, Pannun has been creating a false narrative around the issues prevailing in the state of Punjab, especially with regard to Sikh religion, by promoting enmity between the 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,” it added. The Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India (Gol), had, on 10th July 2019, banned SFJ as an 'unlawful association' under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) for its activities.
On 1st July 2020, Pannun was listed as an 'individual terrorist' by the Gol. Pannun has been under NIA 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 of the lister terrorist in Amritsar (Punjab) and Chandigarh UT.
Non-Bailable warrants of arrest were issued against Pannun by the NIA Special Court on 3rd February 2021 and he was declared a 'Proclaimed Offender (P0)' on 29th November 2022.