Tightening its noose around Canada-based 'designated individual terrorist' Gurpatwant Singh Pannu, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) confiscated a house and land of the self-styled general counsel of the outlawed Sikhs for Justice (SFJ) outfit in Punjab's Amritsar and the Union Territory of Chandigarh on Saturday, an official said.
The action, which comes as a big boost to the country's crackdown on the terror and secessionist network being operated from various countries, including Canada, followed confiscation orders passed by the Special NIA Court, SAS Nagar, Mohali (Punjab), a spokesperson of the NIA said.
The official said the properties confiscated include a 46-kanal (5.7 acres) agricultural land at Khankot village in Amritsar and a one-fourth share of a house in Chandigarh's sector 15/C area.
These properties were earlier attached following orders passed by the government in two different cases, the spokesperson said, adding that they have now been confiscated on the court's orders under the relevant section of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) in a case registered on April 5, 2020.
This is the first time that properties of an absconding accused of the NIA have been confiscated under section 33(5) of the UAPA.
The case was originally registered on October 19, 2018 under various sections of the Indian Penal Code at the Sultanwind police station in Amritsar city and later, transferred to the NIA. A total of 10 accused, including Pannu, have so far been chargesheeted in the case.
Pannu has been on the NIA's radar since 2019, when the anti-terror federal agency registered its first case against the terrorist, who has been playing a major role in promoting and commissioning terror acts and activities, and spreading fear and terror in Punjab and elsewhere in the country through his threats and intimidation tactics.
Non-bailable warrants of arrest were issued against Pannu by the Special NIA Court on February 3, 2021 and he was declared a 'Proclaimed Offender' (PO) on November 29 last year.
"Investigations have revealed that Pannu's organisation, Sikhs for Justice, was misusing cyberspace to radicalise gullible youth and instigate them to undertake terrorist crimes and activities," the NIA spokesperson said.
The official said the investigations have further revealed that Pannu was the main handler and controller of the SFJ, which was 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 the social media to fight for the cause of the independent state of Khalistan, challenging the sovereignty, integrity and security of the country," the spokesperson said.
In recent days, the official said Pannu has been in the news for issuing blatant threats to senior Indian diplomats and government functionaries in 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.
The NIA action came amid an escalating diplomatic row between India and Canada over the issue of the killing of Khalistani extremist Hardeep Singh Nijjar by unidentified assailants in British Columbia in June.