Two men accused of trying to lure youths through social media posts into a movement for a separate Khalistan state pleaded guilty on Wednesday to charges before a special court and were sentenced to five years of rigorous imprisonment. One of the men, Harpal Singh, was arrested by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) in 2018, and another, Gurjeet Nijjar, in 2020. Nijjar had left India for Cyprus in 2017 and was apprehended at New Delhi’s international airport due to a look-out circular issued against him. They have been in custody since their arrest. The time they spent as undertrials will be deducted from their sentence.
Accused narrating atrocities against Sikhs
As per the charges of the agency, Nijjar was the main conspirator. The duo, along with other accused, were active on social media platforms and conspired to revive Sikh militancy. As per the NIA’s case, the duo convinced their co-accused Moin Khan to work for the cause by narrating atrocities committed on Sikhs and also directed him to purchase pistols and ammunition in 2018 for their plans.
Maximum Sentence Imposed
After they pleaded guilty, the special court designated under the NIA Act confirmed with the duo that they had done so voluntarily before accepting their plea. It then held them guilty of the charges against them and heard them on the point of sentence to be imposed.
Harpal Singh said his daughter was born 45 days after his arrest and he has never got to hold her in his arms. He said further that his family is in dire straits as he was the sole breadwinner. Nijjar also told the court that he has two young children. The prosecution sought a maximum sentence. Special Judge AM Patil then imposed a five-year sentence on them.