Pro-khalistan group websites blocked, SFJ’s Pannun is govt’s next target
Pro Khalistan group SFJ was banned last year while its separatist leader Gurpatwant Singh Pannun has been designated an individual terrorist by the government a couple of days ago.Updated: Jul 05, 2020, 21:16 IST
The Centre on Sunday blocked 40 websites linked to the banned pro-Khalistan group - Sikhs For Justice (SFJ)-- being used to propagate an anti-India sentiment across the world and for enticing Sikh youth to join militancy, people familiar with the development said.
The ministry of 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 the medium for its agenda.
The outfit has already been banned by the government in July 2019 while its leader - Gurpatwant Singh Pannun has been declared an “individual terrorist” under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act on Wednesday.
Both MHA and IT ministry refused to divulge the details of websites that have been blocked, one of the key websites associated widely with the group –www.referendum2020.org-- through which support from Sikh youth for a separate Khalistani state is sought by SFJ, could not be accessed as it has been blocked by the department of telecommunications.
According to a gazette notification issued last year while banning SFJ, “The outfit is involved in anti-national and subversive activities in Punjab and elsewhere, intended to disrupt the sovereignty and territorial integrity of India.”
The central government’s order had stated that SFJ was in close touch with the militant outfits and activists, and was supporting violent forms of extremism and militancy in Punjab and elsewhere to carve out a sovereign Khalistan out of the 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 (the) 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 notification had said.
The declaration to ban 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 is in the judgment that a mention to the website, www.referendum2020.org, “which is replete with pro-Khalistani posts and anti-India insinuations” is found.
Agencies are trying to get an Interpol red notice issued against Pannun. Indian officials have claimed that Pannun is getting support from Pakistan for his anti-India activities.