Gurpatwant Singh Pannun is an Indian-born US-based lawyer and a Khalistani militant who is the founder of the Sikhs for Justice (SFJ). Pannun has often hit the headlines for indulging in anti-India activities. In June 2023, he reportedly went missing in the US.
Gurpatwant Singh Pannun was born in Khankot Village, Amritsar, Punjab, India. It was reported that his family migrated to India from Pakistan after the partition of India in 1947. After completing his schooling in Punjab, he enrolled at the Punjab University, where he did his law. Pannun, along with his brother, shifted to the United States of America after completing college studies. There, he began practising law as an attorney.
Height (approx.): 5′ 7″
Hair Colour: Salt and Pepper
Eye Colour: Dark Brown
Parents & Siblings
His father, Mohinder Singh Pannun (deceased), was a Punjab State Agricultural Marketing Board employee. His mother’s name is Amarjit Kaur (deceased). He has two siblings. His brother’s name is Mangwant Singh; he migrated to the US with Gurpatwant.
Wife & Children
His marital status is unknown.
His deceased paternal cousin, Diljit Singh Pannun, served as the High Commissioner to Ghana from 1992 to 1997 and Ambassador to Madagascar from 2005 to 2007.
Gurpatwant Singh Pannun follows Sikhism.
He resides at House No. 350-05 AVE, 59th Floor Empire State Building, New York, USA.
Involvement in the Khalistan movement
Gurpatwant Singh Pannun founded and became the legal advisor of the Sikhs for Justice (SFJ) in October 2007 in New York, the United States of America. The organisation was founded to advocate for justice for the Sikhs killed during the 1984 anti-Sikh riots in India after the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.
In 2011, SFJ, under Pannun’s leadership, filed litigation against the Indian National Congress (INC) leader Kamal Nath in a local court in the US over his alleged involvement in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots in India. The court, however, quashed the litigation citing that the riots did not affect the United States in any way. In September 2013, SFJ filed an amended class action complaint against Sonia Gandhi for protecting those involved in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots; however, it was rejected by the court of law in June 2014 due to lack of subject matter jurisdiction and failure to state a claim. In February 2014, SFJ filed a petition against the former Prime Minister of India, Manmohan Singh, in a court in the US. In its litigation, the organization claimed that Manmohan Singh, while serving as India’s Finance Minister in the 1990s, significantly contributed to funding the organisations responsible for oppressing the Sikh community in India. In November 2015, SFJ started a campaign demanding the release of Jagtar Singh Hawara, one of the conspirators of the murder of Chief Minister of Punjab Beant Singh.
Pannun announced in London in 2018 that the SFJ would be coordinating Referendum 2020 to seek the separation of Punjab from India. According to the SFJ, the referendum was to take place in Pakistan, Australia, Canada, the USA, and the UK. In addition, he mentioned SFJ’s plans to set up a permanent office in Lahore, aimed at streamlining voter registration processes and providing vital information to the Sikh community. He further said that the banners promoting the referendum in the vicinity of Nankana Sahib in Pakistan will display the images of Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale.
The Government of India issued a ban on SFJ on 10 July 2019, and stated in its official statement that,
The outfit was declared outlawed under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention Act), 1967. “[SFJ] is in close touch with the militant outfits and activists and is supporting a violent form of extremism and militancy in Punjab and elsewhere to carve out Khalistan out of the territory of India.”
In 2019, it was reported that the Pakistani government was working hand in hand with Pannun in conducting workshops and seminars regarding Khalistan for the Sikh pilgrims from India visiting the Gurdwara Darbar Sahib Kartarpur in Pakistan. In June 2020, he wrote a letter to Chinese Premiere Xi Jinping in which he expressed his solidarity with the Chinese government and criticised the Indian government for the Galwan Valley clashes in Ladakh.
In July 2020, he was declared a terrorist by the Government of India under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act of 1967. In September 2020, the NIA attached 46 kanals of land owned by him in Khankot, Amritsar. In October 2020, on Indira Gandhi’s death anniversary, SFJ offered cash rewards and mobile phones to those students who raised anti-India and anti-Indira Gandhi slogans in Punjab. Pannun is considered to be the mastermind behind the farmers’ protests that took a violent turn in New Delhi in 2021. Thereafter, he announced a cash reward of USD 2.5 lacs for those who hoisted the Khalistani flag on the Red Fort in New Delhi on the 2022 Republic Day. Talking about it in a video, Pannun said,
26 January is coming and on the Red Fort, there is an Indian tricolour. Remove the tricolour on 26th of January and replace it with the Khalistan flag. Sikhs for Justice will give 2.5 lakh US dollars to those who will remove the Indian tricolour.”
In May 2022, SFJ claimed responsibility for the RPG attack on the Punjab Police’s Intelligence Headquarters in Mohali. Based on audio recordings of Pannun acquired by the Punjab Police in July 2022 from two SFJ members, it was revealed that the group made attempts to provide refuge for the individuals responsible for the death of singer Sidhu Moose Wala. Additionally, the group had planned on attacking the Ambala Cantonment Junction railway station and Ambala City railway station, along with causing disruptions during Independence Day festivities in Delhi and Punjab. The Government of India requested Interpol to issue a Red Corner Notice (RCN) against Pannun in October 2022; however, the request was rejected by Interpol citing a lack of evidence. In December 2022, in an audio recording, the SFJ claimed responsibility for firing a Russian-made RPG-28 on a police station in Tarn Taran; however, Pannun refuted the claims and said that SFJ was involved in a “peaceful” movement. He further offered monetary assistance to those who were taken into custody by the cops after the attack. In April 2023, he issued a threat to Assam CM Sarma after he jailed Amritpal Singh’s close associates. He also took responsibility for the attack on the Indian Army’s camp in Bhatinda, Punjab, that led to the death of four soldiers; however, Punjab Police rebuked the claims. The NIA seized his ancestral land in Khankot village and residential property in Chandigarh’s Sector – 15 in September 2023.
On 20 June 2023, several sources claimed that Gurpatwant Singh Pannun had been missing for the last 48 hours. It was also claimed that Pannun had gone into hiding out of fear of getting targeted following the killing of Canada-based Khalistani separatist Hardeep Singh Nijjar. Bharat Times
- In August 2022, Congress leader Gursimram Singh Mand hoisted the Indian flag at Gurpatwant Singh Pannun’s residence in Chandigarh as part of the Har Ghar Tiranga Abhiyan.
- Gurpatwant Singh Pannun shared a close bond with the murdered chief of the Kahlistan Tiger Force (KTF) Hardeep Singh Nijjar.
- In September 2023, an FIR was registered against Pannun by the Gujarat police for issuing threats to disrupt the 2023 ICC Cricket World Cup. These threats were reportedly delivered to individuals across the country through a pre-recorded message. India Today In the voice note, Pannun allegedly said,
It will not be the start of the World Cup Cricket but this will be the beginning of the world terror cup. We are going to take revenge for Shaheed Nijar’s assassination.”
During the India vs Australia World Cup final on 19 November 2023, a boy named Wen Johnson breached security and entered the pitch at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad. He was wearing a pro-Palestine t-shirt with the message ‘Stop Bombing Palestine.’ Security officials quickly apprehended him, and he was later arrested by the police and taken to the Chandkheda Police Station. Following his arrest, the banned pro-Khalistan group Sikhs For Justice (SFJ), led by Pannun, announced a reward of US $10,000 for interrupting the match. Many international agencies, however, speculated that it could be a trick by SFJ. Johnson, on the other hand, in an interview, stated that his main purpose was to hug Virat Kohli and express his support for Palestine. News 18