Suspected to be in touch with militants in Belgium, Pakistan, England.
Punjab Police have arrested three men alleging them to be members of a hardliner group called Khalistan Zindabad Force, citing as evidence against them two pistols and some cartridges in their possession, and an alleged link with a Belgium-based “known” Sikh militant, who in turn was in touch with another Pakistan-based Sikh militant.
M F Farooqui, head of the Punjab Police counter-intelligence wing in Amritsar, which carried out the arrests, said the men had no record of any criminal actitvity. They were picked up in the course of an operation launched to find the attackers of RSS state vice-president Jagdish Gagneja, but Farooqui said the men were not linked to the attack.
The arrests were announced a day after Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal alleged Pakistan’s intelligence agency ISI was planning to disrupt peace in Punjab ahead of the elections by reviving terrorism in the state.
Earlier in the week, three alleged “handlers” of Khalistan Liberation Force were arrested for “unlawful activities” in Hoshiarpur.
The three men arrested Thursday were identified as Gurpal Singh alias Pala, of Jalalpur Kalan village in Jalandhar district, Rachhpal Singh of Rakh Ameer in Fazilka, and Major Singh of Dajjar in Karnal district in Haryana.
The police alleged the men were planning to carry out “anti-national disruptive activities on a large scale”. Two pistols and some live cartiridges were seized from them, the police said.
Major Singh was serving as a priest at Dera Gurdwara Guruana Sahib at Vero Nangal village in Amritsar and Rachhpal Singh was living at Khudda Ali Sher in Chandigarh.
In a press release, Farooqui said a police party arrested Gurpal Singh at Umaranangal at Amritsar-Jalandhar road after identifying him with the help of an informer, while he was sitting on a parked motorcyle, waiting to meet someone.
“During his search, one pistol (9mm) along with magazine and six cartridges were recovered from his possession,” the press release added,
“During the preliminary interrogation, Gurpal Singh revealed he received the pistol and cartridges from a priest Major Singh. Gurpal was in touch with Major and some wanted terrorists based in Belgium, England and Pakistan. They had been entrusted the task of reviving militancy in Punjab by speeding up terrorist activities. It was revealed they had received consignments of arms and ammunition a few days ago and were planning targeted attacks at different places. A special team was constituted to arrest Major Singh,” said the release.
It went on to say that the team then “apprehended Major Singh from Vairo Nangal village on Mehta-Batala road and recovered a pistol along with 10 live cartridges from his possession.
“During interrogation, Major Singh revealed that he along with Gurpal Singh and Rachhpal Singh were working at the behest of wanted terrorists Jagdish Singh based in Belgium, Kuldeep Singh Sidhu and Jasbir Singh alias Jassi both from England.
“With information provided by Major Singh, Rachhpal Singh was arrested from Chandigarh.”
Drawing further links, Farooqui said in the press release that the Belgium-based Jagdish Singh was in touch with a Pakistan based “hardcore wanted terrorist” Ranjit Singh Neeta and other members of Khalistan Zindabad Force
He said several teams had now been constituted to unearth the complete network of Gurpal Singh, Major Singh and Rachhpal Singh.
An FIR under the Arms Act, Unlawful Activities Prevention Act and the PS State Special Operation Cellhas been registered in this regard.