Family of SFJ’s Gurpatwant Pannun migrated from Pak to Amritsar village during PartitionUpdated: Sep 09, 2020, 20:01 IST
The family of US-based Sikhs for Justice (SFJ) leader Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, who was declared a designated terrorist by the Union home ministry under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act in July, had migrated from Pakistan to Amritsar’s Khankot village during the Partition in 1947.
The Centre on Tuesday ordered attachment of Pannun’s 57 kanal land at Khankot and Sultanwind area of Amritsar under Section 51-A of the stringent UAPA Act.
The National Investigation Agency (NIA), which is probing a case against Pannun over a campaign launched by the SFJ under the banner of ‘Referendum 2020’, sealed 46 kanals of agriculture land and a residential plot in the village on Monday, a senior police official said.
Pannun, who was designated a terrorist along with eight other men, has been running a campaign against India and motivating the Sikh youth in Punjab to join militancy, according to the government.
Though Pannun is little known in the village, his family still owns property worth crores, including agriculture land, besides a school and a college, in the village.
“We came to know that Pannun belonged to the village after his property was sealed. I never heard in the village about him before this,” said Subash Sehgal, a social activist from Khankot.
The village’s former sarpanch Gurdarshan Singh Sandhu, 68, said, “I never saw Gurpatwant in the village, but his family migrated from Pakistan along with 35 other families. Our family was also among those.”
He said, “Gurpatwant’s father Mohinder Singh Pannun had two elder brothers—Mohan Singh and Bhagwan Singh. Mohinder was a senior officer in the Punjab Mandi Board in Chandigarh. Mohinder Singh has two sons—Gurpatwant and Magwant. Mohinder’s family rarely visited the village. But Mohan and Bhagwan lived in the village. Mohan had two sons while Bhagwan was issueless. Mohan also left the village around three decades ago while Bhagwan died here around 20 years ago. We came to know that Mohan’s both sons had also died.”
Sandhu, who remained the village sarpanch from 2003 to 2008, said, “Gurpatwant and Magwant have around 18 acres of land in our village while Daljit’s sons hold the possession of the around 30 acres. The two sons of Daljit, who also served as an ambassador in a foreign country, are also running a private school and a college in the village. But they have no contact with the local residents.”
He said the 18-acre land belonging to Gurpatwant and Magwant was being tilled by one Bikramjit Singh of the village for the last 30 years. “Gurpatwant’s mother Amarjit Kaur had been collecting the land rent from Bikramjit. After Amarjit’s death, the rent was being paid to Magwant’s account,” he said.
He said Bikramjit was unaware that the land which he had taken on rent belonged to Gurpatwant.
A senior police official said, “Dalit’s sons (Gurpatwant’s cousins) have leased out land in Amritsar on which a shopping mall and a luxury hotel are built. A daughter of Pannun’s cousin is married in one of the influential political families in Amritsar. The family also has property worth crores in other areas of Punjab.”
In a press release, the NIA on Tuesday said the SFJ was trying to hold meetings at certain places in the US and other countries to mobilise the Sikh diaspora for its illegal activities. Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh has repeatedly said Pannun has been operating at the behest of Pakistan’s ISI.