Anti-terror police in India have filed a criminal case against a Sikh separatist with dual US and Canadian citizenship after he allegedly warned Sikhs not to fly with Air India from November 19 because of an unspecified threat to their safety.
Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, the self-styled General Counsel of US-based activist group Sikhs for Justice, made the alleged threats in a series of widely circulated social media posts, although he now says his comments were misconstrued.
Pannun’s attempts to clarify his comments, however, didn’t stop India’s National Investigation Agency (NIA) from filing a litany of charges against him under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act of 1967.
India outlawed Sikhs for Justice as an ‘unlawful association’ in 2019 and declared Pannun an ‘individual terrorist’ nearly a year later.
In the viral social media posts, Pannun called on Skihs worldwide to “not fly Air India” because “there could be a danger to life.” He also said a “global blockade” against Air India would effectively ground the airline.
The NIA says the comments have “triggered a high alert as well as investigations by security forces in Canada, India and certain other countries where Air India flies”.
Pannun claims Skih’s are facing an “existential threat” in India but said he was simply calling for a boycott of Air India, dismissing allegations that he had threatened the airline or its passengers.
Attempts to arrest Pannun have so far been hampered by Interpol’s refusal to issue a so-called ‘Red Notice’ against the separatist leader, according to local media reports.
Diplomatic relations between Delhi and Ottawa remain strained after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau accused the Indian government of involvement in the killing of another Sikh separatist in June.
The worst terror attack in Canada’s history occurred on June 23, 1985, when and Air India Boeing 747 flying from Montreal to London was blown apart as it flew across the Atlantic. All 329 passengers and crew onboard the plane were killed.
The bomb was planted onboard by Canadian Sikh separatists and the attack remained the deadliest airline terror atrocities until 9/11.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.