Gurpatwant Singh Pannun is a Canadian and American citizen serving as the general counsel of Sikhs for Justice, an organization advocating for the creation of an independent Sikh state called Khalistan. Recently, US officials foiled an alleged plot to assassinate Pannun, who is designated as a terrorist in India. The White House has taken the matter seriously, discussing it with Indian authorities at the highest levels.
Pannun has been a key organizer of nonbinding referendums for a separate Sikh state, conducting them in countries with large Indian diasporas such as Canada, the UK, and Australia. A phase of the voting in the United States is scheduled for January 2024 in San Francisco.
Born in Khankot village near Amritsar, Pannun graduated from Punjab University in the 1990s and founded Sikhs for Justice in 2007. The Indian government banned the organization in 2019 for its anti-India activities, and Pannun was later declared an “individual terrorist” for promoting secessionism.
In September, Pannun urged Hindu-Canadians to leave Canada amid a diplomatic dispute over the killing of Khalistani terrorist Hardeep Singh Nijjar, a close associate of Pannun. Blaming India for Nijjar’s death, Pannun has faced accusations of promoting secessionism and encouraging Punjabi Sikh youth to take up arms.
Pannun gained attention earlier this month for threatening a global blockade, asserting that Air India would not be allowed to operate, and predicting the closure and renaming of the Indira Gandhi International Airport in Delhi on November 19. The National Investigation Agency in India has registered a case against Pannun under various sections of the Indian Penal Code and the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act in response to these threats.
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