Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, a US-based member of banned outfit Sikhs for Justice, was booked by Haryana police on charges of inciting terrorism and promoting sedition in India by making automated phone calls to people in the state.
The move followed two days after the Centre on Wednesday designated Pannun, who had organised the Khalistan 2020 referendum, and eight others as terrorists under the latest provisions of the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.
Director General of Haryana Police Manoj Yadava said a First Information Report has been lodged against Pannun in a Gurgaon police station under sections 10 (a) and 13 of the UAPA and sections 124 A and 153 A of the India Penal Code.
Section 10 A of the UAPA defines the offence of being a member of an outlawed outfit and working for furthering its activities, while section 13 defines the offence of abetting or inciting terrorism. The two offences entail jail terms of two years and seven years respectively on conviction.
Similarly, section 124-A of the IPC defines the offence of sedition, attracting up to life sentence, while section 153-A relates to the offence of promoting enmity between different group of people on the ground of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language etc and doing acts prejudicial to harmony and entails up to three years of jail terms.
Police will take appropriate action against him for making automated phone calls and instigating people in the state, Mr Yadava added. "Pannun has been seen running a secessionist campaign through automated phone calls against India from the US and indulging in unlawful activities aimed at threatening the sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity of India," a police spokesperson said.
"Being a member of the SFJ, which has been pushing for 'Referendum 2020' as part of its secessionist agenda, Pannun poses a major threat to the communal harmony and unity of the country," he said.
"Pannun has also been indulging in unlawful activity by exhorting the Sikhs from Haryana to take part in voting registration for the illegal referendum to be held online on July 4," he added.
The FIR has been registered on a complaint by a Special Task Force inspector in Gurgaon, the police said in a statement.
In the complaint, it has been stated that Pannun of SFJ has been blaming the Haryana government and its people through the automated calls for being inimical to the interests of Sikhs and Punjabis.
The state police has been maintaining utmost vigilance to monitor the activities of anti-national elements indulging in unlawful activities in the interest of national security, the spokesperson added.
This person (Pannun) intentionally tries to spread mischievous and unsubstantiated information, disturb the peace and brotherhood among the people of both the states. Any attempt by him to disturb the peace would not be tolerated," DGP Yadava had said earlier.
The Punjab Police had on Thursday registered two separate cases against Pannun of and his accomplices at Amritsar and Kapurthala on the charge of sedition and secessionism.
The Ministry of Home Affairs has designated Pannun a terrorist for actively running a secessionist campaign against India and motivating Sikh youths from Punjab to join terrorism.