Sikhs for Justice (SFJ), a US-based group that supports the secession of Punjab from India as Khalistan, is banned in India and its founder, Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, is considered a terrorist in the country.
Over the weekend, Gurpatwant Singh Pannun released a video, advising Sikhs to avoid Air India flights starting from November 19.
In the video, Pannun demanded the closure of Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi on November 19, the same day that India is scheduled to host the Cricket World Cup final.
India’s former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was assassinated by her Sikh bodyguards in 1984 after she launched ‘Operation Bluestar’ against Sikh separatists in Punjab state.
Earlier, Pannun, allegedly made pre-recorded voice calls to nearly 60 people including policemen, lawyers, and journalists, threatening to turn the Cricket World Cup into a “World Terror Cup.”
In response to that warning, Indian High Commissioner to Ottawa Kumar Verma said that New Delhi would raise security concerns with Canadian authorities and seek enhanced security arrangements after the airline was targeted by the outlawed group.
The threats targeting Air India flights follow a diplomatic row between Canada and India over Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s public allegations of New Delhi’s “potential” involvement in the killing of pro-Khalistan leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar.
In 1985, pro-Khalistan extremists bombed Air India flight 182, killing all 329 people on board. The victims included 268 Canadian citizens, mostly of Indian origin, and 24 Indians. Another bomb planted by terrorists exploded at Tokyo’s Narita airport, killing two Japanese baggage handlers. The bomb was intended for another Air India flight to Bangkok, but it exploded prematurely.