Nijjar was an absconding accused in the Pune Khalistan case, which has its origins in the arrest of an accused Harpal Singh in Pune by Maharashtra ATS on December 2, 2018, with an illegal firearm and some live rounds. Harpal has links with proscribed terrorist outfit Babbar Khalsa International (BKI), said a source. Subsequently, another accused – Moin Khan – was arrested by Punjab police from Sirhind and his custody taken by Mumbai police on December 24, 2018.
Investigation revealed that Nijjar was the main conspirator in the case. Accused Gurjeet Singh Nijjar, Harpal and Moin Khan were active on social media platforms and hatched a criminal conspiracy to revive Sikh militancy with the ultimate aim of formation of a separate state of Khalistan. They would post videos and images in praise of Khalistani terrorist Jagtar Singh Hawara who has been convicted for assassination of former Punjab chief minister Beant Singh, images of Operation Blue Star and pro-Khalistan posts related to Babbar Khalsa International with the sole intention of motivating like-minded Sikh youths and others to join the Khalistan “movement”, NIA said on Wednesday.
Nijjar, who hails from Pandori Sukha Sigh village in Ajnala, Amritsar, had left India for Cyprus on October 19, 2017. Sources said his economic background was not sound as he did not have enough land to make sufficient earnings. He was working as a labourer here when he took a loan and went abroad on a study visa but ended up doing menial labour work in Cyprus to make ends meet.
An officer said Nijjar’s whereabouts were tracked persistently by the law enforcement agencies. A look-out circular was opened against him and he was ultimately detained at New Delhi airport on Tuesday and arrested by NIA.
NIA said Moin Khan was in Tihar Jail from 2013 to 2016, during which he developed contact with Jagtar Singh Hawara and showed his willingness to work for him and shared his contact number with him. Subsequently, as planned, accused Moin Khan sent friend request to Facebook ID “Khalistani Jindabad Khalistan”. By joining this Facebook group, Moin Khan came in contact with Harpal and Nijjar.
Nijjar motivated Moin by discussing “atrocities” committed against Muslims and Sikhs in India and convinced him to work for a separate ‘Khalistan state’. He also directed Moin to purchase a pistol and ammunition in 2018 to carry out their nefarious designs.
NIA had on May 23, 2019, filed a chargesheet against Nijjar, accused Harpal Singh, Moin Khan and one Sundar Lal Parashar.