INTERPOL rejected a Red Notice request from India for Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, founder of the Sikhs for Justice (SFJ) organization, citing a lack of evidence and potential abuse of India’s Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) to target a political dissident.

Pannun and the SFJ advocate for the secession of Punjab from India to form a Sikh state known as Khalistan, which has led to the group being banned from India and Pannun being labeled a terrorist under the UAPA. In 2020 the SFJ attempted to organize a world-wide referendum of Sikhs to support secession, angering the Indian government.

India has accused Pannun of sedition for the display of Khalistan banners or flags and accused him of supporting terrorist activities by helping recruit and fund dissent. India claims Pannun has worked with other notable dissidents to recruit Sikhs for the purpose of carrying out assassinations, burning of businesses, and other terrorist activities.

INTERPOL rejected the request, stating that India had not provided evidence to support the accusations of bankrolling and recruiting terrorist activity, and that the other charges he was accused of – flying flags and advocating for secession — were protected free speech, rejecting India’s claims that Pannun was abusing free speech protections. The Commission therefore ruled that the request was predominantly politically motivated and would violate the Interpol Constitution. INTERPOL ordered all their data on Pannun destroyed to protect the agencies neutrality, and stated SFJs calls for a referendum in Punjab were protected by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Pannun remains a high target of interest for Indian authorities as he continues to operate in the United States. INTERPOL had rejected a similar request for a Red Notice in 2018.

Learn more about Interpol abuse:–abuse

By, Will Doherty, Legal Intern