40 websites with Sikhs For Justice links banned by Centre
The Centre on Sunday blocked 40 websites linked to the banned Sikhs For Justice (SFJ) group which were being used to propagate anti-India sentiment across the world and for trying to recruit young Sikhs to join militant ranks, people familiar with the development said.
The ministry of electronics and information technology took down the websites on a recommendation from the ministry of home affairs after it was found that SFJ, primarily operating from the United States, was aggressively using them to push its anti-India agenda, the people said on condition of anonymity.
SFJ was banned by the government in July 2019 while its leader, Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, was declared an “individual terrorist” under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act on Wednesday.
Both MHA and the IT ministry refused to disclose details of websites that have been blocked. One of the key websites associated widely with the group – www.referendum2020.org - through which it sought support from Sikh youth for the formation of a separate Khalistan state, could not be accessed as it has been blocked by the Department of Telecommunications.
According to a gazette notification issued last year when SFJ was banned, “The outfit is involved in anti-national and subversive activities in Punjab and elsewhere, intended to disrupt the sovereignty and territorial integrity of India.”
“SFJ is in close touch with the militant outfits and activists, and is supporting violent form of extremism and militancy in Punjab and elsewhere to carve out a sovereign Khalistan out of territory of Union of India; SFJ is encouraging and aiding the activities for secession of a part of the Indian territory from the Union of India and supporting separatist groups fighting for this purpose in India and elsewhere by indulging in activities and articulations intended to disrupt the sovereignty and territorial integrity of India,” the central government order said
The declaration banning the group was upheld by the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Tribunal headed by Delhi high court chief justice DN Patel.
In its judgment, issued on January 6 this year, the tribunal said, “The notification dated July 10, 2019 issued by the Union of India under the Act declaring Sikhs For Justice (SFJ) to be an unlawful association is hereby confirmed. The reference is answered in the affirmative.”
It was in the judgment that the website, www.referendum2020.org, “which is replete with pro-Khalistani posts and anti-India insinuations” was mentioned.
Agencies are trying to get an Interpol red notice issued against Pannun. Indian officials have claimed that Pannun was getting support from Pakistan for his anti-India activities.