The National Investigation Agency on Saturday seized properties belonging to separatist leader Gurpatwant Singh Pannun.
Pannun was designated a terrorist by India in 2020 and faces 22 criminal cases in Punjab. His organisation, Sikhs For Justice, was banned by the Indian government in 2019.
The action comes after a video was circulated in which the separatist leader was seen telling Hindu Canadians to leave Canada. On Friday, Canada had described the video as “offensive and hateful” as well as an affront to all its citizens.
In a statement on Saturday, the National Investigation Agency said that the confiscated properties include 46 kanal (2.32 hectares) of agricultural land in a village in Amritsar and one-fourth of a house in Chandigarh.
“Pannun has been on NIA’s radar since 2019, when the anti-terror agency had 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,” the statement said.
The investigation showed that Pannun, who is the main handler of the Sikhs For Justice, was allegedly misusing the internet to radicalise youth and instigate them to undertake terrorist activities, the statement said.
It claimed that Pannun has been exhorting Punjab-based gangsters and youth over social media to fight for independence Khalistan, challenging the sovereignty, integrity and security of India.
The Khalistan movement is a separatist campaign to create a country for Sikhs by seceding from India.
“In recent days, Pannun has been in the news for issuing blatant threats to senior Indian diplomats and government functionaries in public forums,” the statement said. “He had also threatened Canadian Hindus a few days, asking them to leave Canada and claiming that they had adopted a ‘jingoistic approach’ by siding with India.”
Diplomatic relations between India and Canada have hit an all-time low since Justin Trudeau announced on Monday that officials were investigating “credible allegations of a potential link” between Indian government agents and the death of 45-year-old Nijjar on June 18 in Surrey, outside Vancouver.
India has rejected the charges as “absurd and motivated”. On Thursday, New Delhi also called Canada a “safe haven” for terrorists and suspended visa services in the country. Canada, on its part, has said it will downsize its diplomatic staff in India “out of an abundance of caution”.