Canada-based gangsters may be labelled as ‘individual terrorists’
The NIA is planning to declare several wanted gangsters based in Canada as “individual terrorists” under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), people familiar with the development said.
Going all out against key players who are part of a terrorist-gangster nexus and are allegedly supervising targeted killings in Punjab from foreign soil, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) is planning to declare several wanted gangsters based in Canada as “individual terrorists” under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), people familiar with the development said.
During a high-level meeting of the NIA recently, discussions revolved around including in the UAPA list the names of gangsters such as Satinderjit Singh alias Goldy Brar, who masterminded the killing of singer Sidhu Moosewala, Arshdeep Singh alias Arsh Dala, Lakhbir Singh alias Landa, Charanjit Singh alias Bihla, Ramandeep Singh alias Raman Judge, Gurpinder Singh alias Baba Dalla and Sukhdul Singh alias Sukha Duneke; all based in Canada.
Dala’s name is being sent to the ministry of home affairs (MHA) for declaring him an “individual terrorist” and others may follow soon, the people cited above said. Dala, currently based in British Columbia, is wanted in cases of drugs and arms smuggling, UAPA, etc by the NIA and Punjab Police. The NIA has declared a reward of ₹10 lakh on him.
The list of “individual terrorists” under the UAPA currently has names of 48 persons but most of them are associated with Pakistan-backed Islamic terror outfits or Khalistani groups. Those designated include Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Maulana Masood Azhar, Lashkar-e-Taiba chief Hafiz Saeed, underworld don Dawood Ibrahim, US-based leader of Sikhs for Justice (SFJ) Gurpatwant Singh Pannun (accused of spearheading a campaign under the banner of “Referendum 2020” for a separate Khalistani state), Babbar Khalsa International’s UK chief - Paramjit Singh, Canada-based head of the Khalistan Tiger Force (KTF) Hardeep Singh Nijjar and Germany-based member of the Khalistan Zindabad Force (KZF) Gurmeet Singh Bagga.
“It would be for the first time that gangsters will be named individual terrorists,” said an officer, who didn’t want to be named.
Under the fourth schedule of the UAPA, the Centre has powers to designate a person as an individual terrorist if it believes that he or she is involved in terrorism. The provision was included in the act through an amendment in August 2019.
Once a person is designated an individual terrorist, agencies such as the NIA can put an embargo on arms, funds and seize the assets of such persons, according to the officer cited above.
Another officer said the NIA had taken up the issue of gangsters with Canadian authorities during the Interpol General Assembly last month in Delhi but the head of the Canadian delegation told the Indian officials that “they don’t have any evidence against these individuals, most of whom are Canadian citizens”.
The stalemate between India and Canada on the issue has persisted for long with New Delhi blaming the latter for nor taking action against the perpetrators of hate crimes, sectarian violence and anti-India activities.
“There has been a sharp increase in incidents of hate crimes, sectarian violence and anti-India activities in Canada. The ministry of external affairs and our high commission/consulates general in Canada have taken up these incidents with the Canadian authorities and requested them to investigate the said crimes and take appropriate action. The perpetrators of these crimes have not been brought to justice so far in Canada,” the MEA said in a statement in September after a series of incidents, including anti-India graffiti at the Swaminarayan Temple in Toronto, defacing of the Bhagwad Gita park, and an attack on an Indian-origin Punjabi radio host in Brampton apart from targeted killings in Punjab.
The NIA, earlier this week, took custody of gangster Lawrence Bishnoi, who was involved in Moosewala’s killing, and has arrested Kulwinderjit Singh alias Khanpuria, when he arrived from Bangkok. Khanpuria is associated with Babbar Khala International (BKI) and had masterminded terrorist attacks in India by targeting establishments connected with the Dera Sacha Sauda as well as those belonging to police in Punjab.
The federal probe agency is also investigating a case related to a nexus between Pakistan-based terror outfits, the ISI, Khalistani outfits and organised gangs in Punjab and other parts of north India.