Three Amritsar residents, arrested for cross-border smuggling of narcotics and counterfeit currency in July 2012, have been sentenced to rigorous imprisonment (RI) ranging from 20 years to an additional 10 years by a special National Investigation Agency (NIA) court in SAS Nagar, led by justice PP Singh.
The accused were convicted under various sections of the Indian Penal Code and the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) ACT on July 17 and the sentences, to be run concurrently, were announced on Monday.
The trio - Dilbag Singh, Bikramjit Singh and Harpal Singh - had been arrested by the State Special Operation Cell (SSOC), along with officials of the Border Security Force (BSF) in Amritsar in July 2012. A detailed judgment is yet to be made available.
The home ministry transferred the case to the National Investigation Agency (NIA) in September 2012 after it suspected a larger conspiracy by Pakistan's spy agency, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), in the racket.
Initially, five accussed had emerged in the case. These were Dilbag Singh, his son Bikramjit Singh, Gurpartap Singh, Harpal Singh and Jasbir Singh. Gurpartap was a juvenile at the time of the arrest and following his confession to the court, he was sent to juvenile home in Hoshiarpur district in 2013.
Jasbir Singh turned approver and was granted conditional pardon in October 2014.
The State Special Operation Cell (SSOC) along with the BSF seized 11 kg of heroin, fake currency amounting to `5 lakh, `2.25 lakh original Indian currency, a pistol (made in Italy) with 40 rounds, a Pakistani mobile phone from the possession of Dilbag Singh, his son Bikramjit Singh and Gurpartap Singh, all residents of Amritsar, on July 2, 2012.
During interrogation, it was revealed that they had procured a huge consignment from Pakistan, which had been concealed in Indian territory near the border fencing and was to be handed over to Harpal Singh and Jasbir Singh. Another trap was laid and the duo was arrested.
What got them in?
The mobile phone seized from the accused's possession showed that they remained in touch with one Mohammad Bilal in Pakistan over smuggling of narcotics and counterfeit currency. The packets containing narcotics and counterfeit currency used to be placed in zero line near the border. Statement of several officers and witnesses did them in.
July 2, 2012: State Special Operation Cell (SSOC) along with the BSF in Amritsar lays trap arrests Dilbag Singh, son Bikramjit Singh and Gurpartap Singh.
July 4, 2012: Lays another trap arrests co-accused Harpal Singh and Jasbir Singh.
December 12, 2012: Chargesheet filed by NIA.
July 2013: Gurpartap sent to juvenile home in Hoshiarpur district
October 2014: Jasbir Singh turns approver
July 17, 2015: Dilabg Singh, Bikramjit Singh and Harpal Singh held guilty.
July 20, 2015: Sentencing done