Popular messaging service WhatsApp has banned the account of Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, the legal advisor of the secessionist group Sikhs For Justice. According to a report in Indian Express, the ban comes after the government of India launched a clampdown on the secessionist group that is leading a referendum campaign for Khalistan. The Punjab government has also reportedly filed FIRs on Pannun and other workers of Sikhs For Justice on sedition charges.
Earlier, the government had ordered Twitter and Facebook to block the accounts of Pannun on their social media platforms. As per reports, the Twitter and Facebook accounts of Pannun were not accessible to anyone with an Indian IP address. As a response to this, Pannun had reportedly uploaded a video on another SFJ activist’s Facebook page and threatened home minister Rajnath Singh and Punjab CM Amarinder Singh. In the live video, Pannu had reportedly hurled insults at the Indian national flag and stated that the Indian government has also initiated action against WhatsApp groups that talk of Khalistan so he should be made the admin of all those groups.
In addition to Pannun, other activists like Paramjeet Singh Pamma had also issued threats to Punjab CM Amarinder Singh through facebook posts. Many Sikh leaders in the state are reportedly getting threats to support the ‘Khalistan referendum’ announced in London last month. The secessionist group Sikhs For Justice (SFJ) has also reportedly threatened to file lawsuits against the political leaders of Punjab. It is notable here that former Punjab CM Prakash Singh Badal was harassed with civil lawsuits filed against him in the USA when he visited the country in 2012. A report in Tribune India has quoted an Intelligence officer as saying that many Sikh political leaders are unable to visit North American countries in fear of such lawsuits by radical elements as they do not have diplomatic immunity in these countries.
It is notable here that Pannun had gained notoriety in Punjab for his numerous lawsuits against political leaders. In 2017, the Punjab Government had put a sedition case against him for putting up posters of the ‘referendum 2020’ supporting the Khalistan demand.
In 2014, American Justice Centre (AJC), another organisation Pannun is associated with, filed a lawsuit against PM Narendra Moid at a New York court in connection of 2002 riots. They also announced a cash reward of USD 10,000 for anyone who can serve the court summon to Modi.
The secessionist group SFJ was one of the main organisations behind the August 12 ‘referendum 2020’ event organised at London’s Trafalgar Square. The SFJ had called the event the London Declaration. It was also backed by Pakistani origin UK politician Nazir Ahmed who is believed to be supported by the ISI. Radical Sikh organisations in the UK had also planned to launch an anti-India campaign supported by ISI during PM Modi’s UK visit in April this year.