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India’s anti-terror agency files case against Sikh separatist for Air India threat

NEW DELHI: India’s anti-terror agency has filed a case against a Sikh separatist leader for threatening not to let flag carrier Air India operate anywhere in the world, while warning its passengers of danger to their lives.

The agency said security forces were on alert after the threats by Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, who acts as general counsel of Sikhs for Justice (SFJ), a group campaigning to establish an independent Sikh homeland called Khalistan carved out of India.

The case against Pannun has been registered under various provisions of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act 1967 and under sections of the Indian Penal Code, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) said in a statement on Monday (Nov 20).

“Pannun threatened that Air India would not be allowed to operate in the world … in his video messages, released on Nov 4,” it said, adding that he had urged Sikhs not to travel on Air India flights from Sunday, “claiming a threat to their lives”.

Reuters has not independently verified the video messages, which were widely shared on social media this month.

Pannun’s Sikhs for Justice group did not immediately respond to a request for comment sent to an email address listed on its website. Air India did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

India banned the SFJ as an “unlawful association” in 2019 and listed Pannun as an “individual terrorist” in 2020.

Pannun is a resident of the United States, the NIA said that year. Media have said he has dual citizenship in the United States and Canada. The SFJ has offices in Britain, Canada and the United States, it says on its website.

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