Counter Terrorism Perspectives: CTP

MLM: "A Profile of the Anti-India Secessionist and Pro-Khalilistan Demagogue: Gurpatwant Singh Pannu"

June 22, 2022

Gurpatwant Singh Pannu, one of the founding leaders of the U.S-based pro- Khalistan separatist entity “Sikhs For Justice (SFJ),” is notorious for his incendiary speeches and threatening messages against Indian leaders and its democratic institutions. On May 10, Pannu claimed responsibility for the rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) attack at Punjab Intelligence Headquarters in Mohali, Punjab and for raising Khalistani flags at the Dharamshala Assembly complex in Himachal Pradesh. The State police named Pannu as the main accused in the Himachal Pradesh case and booked him under the stringent anti- terror Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (The Hindu, May 9; FirstPost, May 11).

This is not the first time Pannu and SFJ stoked fear and challenged Indian authorities. His active engagement in anti-Indian activities came to light in August 2018 during the “Khalistan Referendum 2020” campaign rally held at London’s Trafalgar square (India Today, August 13, 2018). The rally, which was the first of its kind by SFJ, was organized to foment Punjabi sub-nationalism across the world and revive the subdued Khalistan homeland movement in the Indian subcontinent. [1]

During the same year, in October 2018, police in India unearthed SFJ’s presence in Punjab with the arrest of several operatives who possessed “Referendum 2020” banners. In addition, they had arms and other documents related to the Khalistan separatist movement. Investigations led to the uncovering of SFJ and Pannu’s informal funding networks, arms procurement channels for subversive activities, and media campaigns to incite the pro-Khalistan movement to disrupt the territorial integrity of India (Patiala Politics, November 1, 2018; NDTV, October 20, 2018).

Check for Full Text (Subscription): Militant Leadership Monitor, (Jamestwon Foundation): "A Profile of the Anti-India Secessionist and Pro-Khalilistan Demagogue: Gurpatwant Singh Pannu", Militant Leadership Monitor Volume: 13 Issue: 5, May 2022.


[1] The Khalistan movement is a violent secessionist movement that started during the early 1970s and demanded a separate homeland for Sikh people in Punjab, India). Between 1985 and 1991, pro-Khalistan terrorist groups perpetrated several high casualty operations, including the Baddowal train massacre of June 1991 and the Air India flight 182 (Kanishka) bombing in June 1985. For a comprehensive study of the Khalistan movement, read Terry Milewski Blood for Blood: Fifty Years of the Global Khalistan Project, Harper Collins, 2021.

[2] For all Khalistan supporters worldwide, April 29 is Khalistan Day. On this day in 1986, a group of Sikh separatists at the Akal Takht (Sikh Seat of power at the Golden Temple at Amritsar) declared an independent state of Khalistan that effectively started decades-long Khalistan terrorism in India.

[3] “Messages from Sikhs for Justice to Punjab Police”, YouTube, May 2, 2022.