LONDON: Pro-Khalistan group Sikhs for Justice (SFJ) and its leader Gurpatwant Singh Pannun have issued proceedings at the London High Court against Indian-origin Tory Party’s Lord Rami Ranger for making false allegations that they are agents of Pakistani intelligence agency the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and are receiving money from the state of Pakistan for running high-profile Khalistan movement.
The SFJ and Mr Pannun are suing Lord Ranger for making statements that they are both part of a conspiracy mounted and funded by the enemies of India, namely Pakistan; that the SFJ has been declared a terrorist organisation by the Indian Government; that the SFJ leader Mr Pannun has used monies donated to the SFJ for his own benefit, including to enable him to buy a £1million house; and that both the SFJ and Mr Pannun are funded by Pakistan and the Pakistani intelligence agency, the ISI.
Pro-Khalistan Sikh leader Mr Pannun and the SFJ are suing Lord Rami Ranger – a major Conservative party donor and one of the most well-known faces of British Indians- over two defamatory publications. In the first publication published on 30 November 2021 in a Pakistani online paper, Lord Rami Ranger questioned the faith and funding sources of the SFJ and Mr Pannun.
Lord Rami Ranger said in his interview: “This Mr Pannun, I don’t know who is paying for him. He doesn’t even look like a Sikh. He doesn’t even wear a turban. He doesn’t have an uncut beard. These are the prerequisites to be a proper Sikh. You can’t have uncut hair. And you have to wear a Turban. He doesn’t even follow Sikhism.”
When asked if Pakistan was exercising an influence on the SFJ and Mr Pannun as claimed by sections of the Indian media, Lord Ranger said that their “idea is to control the Gurdwaras to make money. They want to take over Gurdwaras and protest in the name of Khalistan to make money”.
Lord Ranger said: “They are funded by the enemies of India.”
He also said that the SFJ leader Mr Pannun will be arrested and lynched if he landed in India. “He will be lynched by the Sikhs who are suffering because of his anti-India rhetoric,” said the peer.
In a second publication on 1 February 2022, Lord Rami Ranger responded to a tweet about Mr Pannun, saying that Mr Pannun was “a selfish man does not do anything himself. Instead, he asks low achievers and gullible to carry out sedition against Mother India. Whilst he will receive money from the enemy of India, those who follow him will rot in jails.”
Lawyers for Mr Pannun have complained that this tweet meant that Mr Pannun was funded by the enemies of India and by way of innuendo that his activities were funded by Pakistan.
The SFJ and Pannun have told the court that the imputations conveyed by the two publications constitute very serious, false and defamatory allegations that the two claimants are corrupt, foreign funded agents of the enemy of India who are using funds from donors for illegitimate ends.
Lawyers have said that allegations by Lord Ranger have caused serious harm to the claimants’ reputation and they have suffered considerable hurt, distress and embarrassment.
Before using proceedings, the claimants had asked Lord Ranger to issue an apology and set the record straight but he failed to do so.
Two months ago, Lord Rami Ranger apologised and withdrew comments that were abusive to Pakistanis, after a referral was made about his conduct to the House of Lords standards watchdog.
While defending Narendra Modi after the BBC’s two-part documentary about the Indian prime minister and his role in anti-Muslim 2002 religious riots in Gujarat, Rami Ranger had accused Pakistanis as groomers of young girls who also do drug peddling. He also had alleged that
“30-40 Labour MPs” depend on Pakistani votes and that “Pakistani votes are the best because they are in ghettoes”. He also suggested without any evidence that the BBC’s “Pakistani-origin staff” could be behind the documentary on Modi.
After he was criticised heavily, Rami Ranger apologised for his racist and hate-filled comments about Pakistanis. Lord Rami Ranger didn’t respond to questions.