Thai police arrested one of the assassins of former Punjab chief minister Beant Singh from a house in Pattaya, 11 years after he escaped from an Indian prison, government sources told HT on Tuesday.
Jagtar Singh alias Tara was on the run since 2004 after he and three other prisoners made a sensational escape digging a tunnel out of Chandigarh’s Burail Model Jail. He was arrested in 1996 for planning the assassination of the then Punjab chief minister and 12 members of his staff by a human bomb.
Tara, who was a member of militant group Babbar Khalsa at the time of the assassination and later joined the Khalistan Tiger Force (KTF), was hiding in Pakistan for several years after his escape before going to Thailand, police sources said.
In a joint operation, central Indian agencies and Thai police arrested the KTF chief on Monday from the house of one Khalat Bari, who had been sheltering Tara at the behest of Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence (ISI), officials said. However, he will spend a month in Thai police’s custody before he is extradited to India.
Punjab police sources said they had handed Thai authorities five arrest warrants against Tara in September last year after they received information that he was living in Thailand on a Pakistan passport as Gurmeet Singh.
“Even an amended, secret red corner notice was issued through Interpol when Punjab police specifically mentioned about the fake identity Tara was using in his Pakistan passport while hiding in Thailand,” a top police source said.
A Punjab police team left for Thailand in September to track his movements. However, Tara went underground and was hiding in the house of Bari, said to be the brother of Pakistan-based ISI agent Sultan Bari, until his arrest on Monday.
The hunt for Tara led Punjab police to many wanted terrorists on foreign soil.
Khalistan Liberation Force chief Harminder Singh alias Mintoo and his aide Gurpreet Singh alias Gopi were arrested in November 2004 in Thailand. In November 2014, police nabbed KTF member Ramandeep Singh alias Goldy in Malaysia.