NEW DELHI: The Interpol, while rejecting for the second time India’s National Central Bureau request for issuance of a Red Corner Notice (RCN) against Khalistani terrorist Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, relied on Pannun’s arguments that he was a political entity and hence Interpol, by virtue of Article 3 of its Constitution, cannot take any coercive action against him.
Article 3 of the organization’s Constitution “strictly forbids the organization to undertake any intervention or activities of a political, military, religious or racial character”. The said protection can become infructuous only if the agency seeking the RCN is able to convince the Interpol, without leaving any doubts, that the individual against whom the RCN is being sought is indulging in subversive and terrorist activities.
The National Central Bureau, the nodal agency for coordinating with the Interpol on India’s behalf, works under the supervision of officials in the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). The dossier against Pannun that the National Central Bureau placed in front of the Interpol to seek the RCN, was prepared by officials of the National Investigation Agency (NIA). The NIA officials maintain that the details given to the Interpol were sufficient and strong for the body to issue the RCN against Pannun. Earlier in January 2019, the Interpol had rejected a similar request for a Red Corner Notice against Pannun that was filed by India in November 2018.
The introduction of Pannun to the Khalistani cause, as The Sunday Guardian had revealed in its report in November 2019 (US emerges as safe soil for Khalistan forces), is part of a well thought out ISI strategy, which is coordinated by officials of the Pakistan intelligence agency ISI and of Directorate of Military Intelligence, GHQ Rawalpindi. The India-related affairs are handled by officials assigned to the “Indian desk” known as “414 INT”. No public trace of Pannun being handled by Pakistan exists despite him meeting Pakistani officials in Canada and the US frequently.
In September 2019, as part of the ISI’s renewed focus to internationalize “Kashmir-Khalistan”, a company—Kashmir Khalistan Referendum Front (KKRF)—was registered in Washington. The address of the company was shown as “910, 17th street, N.W suite, Washington” and the directors of the said company were Ghazala Khan, Gurpatwant Singh Pannun and Muhammad Yunus.
Evidence gathered by American agencies prove that the office bearers of this company are in frequent contact with Pakistani diplomats in New York, Chicago and Washington. It was under an elaborate planning, that Pannun, since 2010, was moulded by ISI to present himself as a “human-rights” lawyer to gain legitimacy in the western world.
And it was from the funding that he received from the ISI that he set up a “law firm” that claims to have two separate offices in California and New York. One of the registered office addresses of his law firm—75-20 Astoria Blvd Suite 170 Jackson Heights, New York—is also given as the registered address of the “yes2khalistan.org”, which, as the name suggests, is another prominent pro-Khalistan website that was registered in July 2010, but updated on 25 September 2019. The elaborate planning to present Pannun as a political and rights activist was done to ensure that no action is taken by any global or US agency on India’s request, despite Pannun openly exhorting Indian youths to carry out violence in Punjab and Delhi.
It is a matter of speculation on whether the NIA in its dossier mentioned that on 13 November 2015, the United States District Court of the Northern District of California had dismissed a case filed by Pannun’s Sikhs for Justice (SFJ) against Facebook for allegedly blocking the group’s page from users in India. Bringing this judgement to the notice of the Interpol would have made India’s case much stronger. Sources said that Pannun shuttles between the US and Canada, which is now, without any reservation, the hub of Khalistani movement in India.
The Interpol Press Office, in its response, told The Sunday Guardian: “Please note the Organization does not comment on specific cases or individuals, we advise you contact the relevant national authorities.”
In his response, Pannun told The Sunday Guardian: “SFJ is operating from US with Head Office in National Press Building, Washington DC, and offices in Toronto, London, Milan, Geneva and Sydney. Yes, we routinely have meetings with officials from US, Canada, UK and EU representatives, since we are organizing global Khalistan Referendum to liberate Punjab from Indian occupation. I do not divulge my travel history to any country, including Pakistan. We, the Sikh community, highly respect the People of Pakistan who are always supporting Sikhs fight (peacefully) to liberate Punjab from Indian occupation so that Pakistan can have a new friendly neighbour Khalistan.”