New Delhi: After searches in Punjab and Haryana, the Delhi Police Special Cell has arrested a 38-year-old man in connection with the pro-Khalistan graffiti on the walls of ISBT flyover in September, said an official, adding that the banned SFJ founder Gurpatwant Singh Pannun had offered him money.
The accused has been identified as Malak Singh a.k.a Malik and he was arrested from Kurukshetra in Haryana.
With the arrest of the accused, Delhi Police has averted the untoward incidents on the day of the final match of the Cricket World Cup on November 19, as he was tasked by Pannun to paint pro-Khalistan slogans at different venues, including Delhi Airport on that day.
According to police, on September 27, multiple pro-Khalistan graffiti with slogans like “Delhi banayaga Khalistan SFJ” and “Khalistan Zindabad” were found sprayed under and over Yudhister Setu, Kashmere Gate Delhi.
Within hours, a video also appeared over the Internet, wherein Pannun, head of SFJ (Sikh For Justice), claimed that Khalistani Sikhs from Canada have reached Delhi to target Parliament House to avenge the assassination of Nijjar, and various graffiti have been sprayed in Delhi.
The Special Commissioner of Police (Special Cell) HGS Dhaliwal said that specific input was received regarding Singh, a resident of Kurkshetra, who was involved in the painting of pro-Khalistan graffiti on the walls of Yudhister Setu, near Kashmere Gate Metro Station on the direction of Pannun.
Singh was also found involved in three other incidents of pro-Khalistan graffiti in Haryana before the G-20 Summit.
“Acting on the information, a team of Special Cell was deployed, and a large-scale manhunt was launched to arrest the perpetrators responsible for the graffiti. Round-the-clock surveillance was mounted on persons of interest, and CCTV footages were analysed,” said Dhaliwal.
During this course, one person wearing a turban was spotted near the graffiti spots, painting slogans. “Finally, it came to light that the said suspect boarded a Punjab-bound bus and got off at Pipli, Kurukshetra, Haryana. Again, CCTV footages of Pipli (Kurukshetra) were examined, but the suspect could not be traced. Lastly, informers were activated and deployed in Kurukshetra and nearby areas, and finally, police succeeded in identifying and arresting Singh from Kurukshetra on November 19,” said Dhaliwal.
On interrogation, it was revealed that Singh has been inclined towards Khalistan ideology since childhood.
“In 2018, after the announcement of Referendum 2020 by Pannun, Singh started following SFJ videos and messages. Later, during the farmers’ agitation in 2020, he came to Singhu Border, where he came into contact with sympathisers of SFJ and Khalistan, from whom he came to know about various YouTube channels, social media IDs and mobile numbers of Pannun, and other SFJ and Khalistan sympathisers,” said the Special CP.
Then he came in contact with Pannun and started discussing the Khalistan movement and the referendum.
“Gradually, he won Pannun’s trust, and then, as per the directions of Pannun, Singh painted the pro-Khalistan slogans at several places,” said the Special CP.
On April 5, 2023, he painted the slogan “Khalistan Welcome G20 in Delhi” with spray paint in Ismailabad, Kurukshetra. On September 5, he painted the pro-Khalistan slogans G 20, “Punjab not part of India, SFJ” at Kurukshetra Railway Station.
“After that, just before the G-20 Summit, as per the directions of Pannun, Singh wrote, “G20 Punjab is not India, Khalistan Referendum SFJ Zindabad” on a Kesari flag and hung the same near the HUDA City Centre, Gurugram, Haryana. After painting pro-Khalistan graffiti at Kashmiri Gate on September 27, he took photos and videos of the slogans, and then sent those photos and videos to Pannun, which were later uploaded by Pannun on various social media platforms. He also destroyed digital evidence by erasing the data of the mobile phone used for making photos and videos of said graffiti,” said the Special CP.
Meanwhile, during the analysis of mobile phones recovered from Singh’s possession, it was revealed that he was directed to paint pro-Khalistan slogans at Delhi Airport and other government buildings in Delhi on November 19, the date of the final of the recently-concluded ICC Cricket World Cup.
“It was in furtherance of the threat extended by Pannun in his latest videos, in which he urged Sikhs not to travel by Air India Flight on November 19. Pannun also referred to the final match of the ICC Cricket World Cup in those videos. The accused, Singh, was apprehended before the task and plan of Pannun was foiled,” the Special CP added.