As per the ATS, SFJ was banned by MHA on July 10, 2019, under the UAPA, designating Pannun as an ‘individual terrorist’ on July 1, 2020. Since 2019, the mercenary had been under NIA’s lens.
As per Director General of police (law and order) Prashant Kumar, UP ATS was conducting a special surveillance and security operation in the light of the upcoming consecration ceremony.
“Acting on intelligence reports about a potential threat, UP ATS identified and tracked a suspicious vehicle in Ayodhya. The occupants of the white Scorpio (HR51BX3753) visited various sensitive locations before heading towards Trimurti Hotel. Subsequently, the individuals were intercepted and apprehended,” Kumar
During interrogation, the trio admitted that they were members of SFJ. Further investigation revealed that Shankarlal was a history sheeter with two murder cases registered against him in Bikaner.
Following Shankarlal’s interrogation, UP ATS revealed that the group received directives from Khalistan supporter Harminder Singh, also known as Landa who is currently abroad. Singh, acting as an intermediary, transmitted Gurpatwant Singh Pannun’s instructions for conducting reconnaissance in Ayodhya, providing a map, and awaiting further guidance for a planned event. The ATS noted that the group sought to conceal their activities by displaying a Ram flag on their vehicle.