The National Investigation Agency on Saturday confiscated a plot of land and parts of a house belonging to Canada-based "designated individual terrorist" Gurpatwant Singh Pannu in Amritsar and Chandigarh, respectively, under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.
Pannu is the “general counsel” for the outlawed Sikhs For Justice, a North America-based organisation accused of secessionist activities in Punjab.
The NIA action comes amid an escalating diplomatic row between India and Canada over Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s linking of Indian government agents to the June assassination of Khalistani extremist Hardeep Singh Nijjar on Canadian soil.
Sources in the NIA described Saturday’s action as a "big crackdown" on the “terror and secessionist network being operated from various countries, including Canada”.
They said the confiscation orders had been issued by a special NIA court in Mohali, Punjab.
An NIA official said the properties confiscated include a 46-kanal (5.7-acre) plot of agricultural land at Khankot village in Amritsar and a one-fourth share of a house in Sector 15/C, Chandigarh.
An NIA spokesperson said Pannu had recently issued threats to senior Indian diplomats and government functionaries from public forums.
"He had also threatened Canadian Hindus a few days ago, asking them to leave Canada and claiming that they had adopted a 'jingoistic approach' by siding with India," the spokesperson said.
In 2019, the NIA had registered a case against Pannu, accusing him of promoting and commissioning terror activities and spreading fear in Punjab and elsewhere in the country. Non-bailable arrest warrants were issued against Pannu by the special NIA court on February 3, 2021, and he was declared a proclaimed offender in November last year.
Sources said a probe had revealed that Sikhs For Justice was using cyberspace to radicalise youths and instigate them to carry out terrorist acts and activities.
They said the investigations had further revealed that Pannu was the main handler and controller within the SFJ, declared an "unlawful association" by the Centre on July 10, 2019.
"Pannu, who was declared a 'designated individual terrorist' on July 1, 2020, has been actively exhorting Punjab-based gangsters and youth over social media to fight for the cause of an independent state of Khalistan, challenging the sovereignty, integrity and security of the country," the NIA spokesperson said.