A coordinated crackdown against pro-Khalistan elements within and outside the country has started yielding results for the law enforcement organisations, with the National Investigation Agency (NIA) succeeding in making two key arrests this month. About two dozen accused and suspects currently operating from overseas are under the scanner.
The latest arrest made by the NIA is that of alleged terrorist Bikramjit Singh, who was wanted in connection with the September 2019 Tarn Taran bomb blast in Punjab. He was extradited from Vienna in Austria. Two persons were killed in a powerful explosion in a vacant plot on the outskirts of Pandori Gola village in Tarn Taran, leaving two dead and one injured. The three had been digging a pit to retrieve an explosive consignment when the bomb went off.
Incidentally, a day after the arrest, Sarhali police station in Tarn Taran was targeted using a rocket-propelled grenade late on Friday night. Over the past one year, six such attacks have been carried out at the police and army establishments in the State, said an official.
Harpreet Singh, who carried a ₹10-lakh reward for his alleged role in the Ludhiana court blast about a year ago, was arrested by the NIA after he landed at the Indira Gandhi International Airport from Kaula Lumpur in Malaysia on December 1. An accomplice of Pakistan-based International Sikh Youth Federation chief Lakhbir Singh Rode, the accused had facilitated delivery of the improvised explosive device. One person was killed and several others were injured in the explosion.
“Of late, persistent attempts are being made by pro-Khalistani banned outfits to foment trouble in Punjab. Huge funds have been channelled from abroad for online propaganda and also for making recruitments. We have come across prima facie evidence, indicating that in the garb of music videos, also being advertised on a popular video sharing platform, violence is being promoted. Based on the findings, we are taking all necessary measures,” the official said.
The agencies have zeroed in on several suspects and accused in Europe, Canada and the United States, many among whom run large criminal syndicates in Punjab. At least 10 of them have taken refuge in Canada. They include Interpol Red Notice subjects Hardeep Singh Nijjar, Gurjeet Singh Cheema and Gurwant Singh Bath, and Sulinder Singh Virk. The gangsters Arshdeep Singh, Satwinderjit Singh aka Goldy Brar, wanted for the murders of singer Sidhu Moosewala and Dera follower Pradeep Sharma; Charanjit Singh, Ramandeep Singh Lakhbeer Singh and Gurpinder Singh are also in Canada.
Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, leader of the banned Sikhs For Justice, and Harjap Singh Jhapi are in the United States, while Jaswinder Singh Multani, Harjot Singh, Gurmeet Singh and Shaminder Singh are in Germany. Accused Gursharanvir Singh Wahiwala, Paramjit Singh Pamma and Maan Singh Khalsa are in the United Kingdom, whereas Gurjinder Singh, Paramjit Singh Baba and Avtar Singh are in Italy. “Purushottam Singh is operating from France and one gangster named Gaurav Patyal is currently in Armenia,” said another official.
“Ironically, some countries often quote their privacy laws for not sharing any information about the nexus between Khalistani leaders in their countries and the elements in Punjab. However, this does not prevent their missions in India from obtaining documents like ration card, police records, property documents and passport details through unauthorised means to facilitate deportation of others. Indian missions need to raise questions as to how such documents are obtained,” the official said.