New Delhi, Jul 9: The ban on pro-Khalistan group Sikhs For Justice (SFJ), founded by US-based lawyer Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, has been extended by the Centre for five years for its relentless anti-India activities.

In a notification issued on Tuesday, the Union Home Ministry said the SFJ was declared a banned organisation five years ago under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act for its anti-national activities.

The notification said the Central government is of the opinion that the SFJ continues to indulge in the activities which are prejudicial to the integrity and security of the country and is involved in anti-national and subversive activities in Punjab and elsewhere, intended to disrupt the sovereignty and territorial integrity of India.

It said that the SFJ is in close touch with the militant outfits and activists, and is supporting violent form of extremism and militancy in Punjab and elsewhere to carve out a sovereign Khalistan out of territory of India.

The pro-Khalistan separatist group is encouraging and aiding the activities for secession of a part of the Indian territory and supporting separatist groups fighting for this purpose in India and elsewhere by indulging in activities and articulations intended to disrupt the sovereignty and territorial integrity of India.

The Home Ministry said the government feels that if the unlawful activities of the SFJ are not curbed and controlled immediately, it is likely to escalate its subversive activities including attempts to carve out Khalistan nation out of the territory of India by destabilising the government established by law.

The SFJ continues to advocate the secession of Punjab from India and formation of Khalistan, it continues to propagate anti-national and separatist sentiments prejudicial to the territorial integrity and security of the country and escalates secessionist movements, support militancy and incite violence in the country, the notification said.

"Now, therefore, in exercise of the powers conferred by sub-sections (1) and (3) of section 3 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 (37 of 1967), the central government hereby extends the declaration of the Sikhs For Justice as an unlawful association and directs that this notification shall, subject to any order that may be made under section 4 of the said Act, have effect for a further period of five years from 10th day of July, 2024," it said.

The SFJ was founded by US-based Pannun, who was also declared as a terrorist by the government. The SFJ had also carried out a campaign for a referendum for a separate Khalistan about three years ago.

Pannun, who holds dual citizenship of the US and Canada, is wanted in India on terror charges.

Last month, an Indian national, Nikhil Gupta, was extradited to the US for his alleged involvement in the plot to kill Pannun on American soil.

The SFJ's primary objective is to establish an "independent and sovereign country" in Punjab. It openly espouses the cause of Khalistan and in that process challenges the sovereignty and territorial integrity of India, an official said.

The SFJ was first declared a banned organisation under the UAPA in 2019. PTI