In another success under its anti-terror operations on foreign soil, the Punjab police on Friday arrested self-styled chief of Khalistan Liberation Force (KLF) Harminder Singh alias Mintoo and his key aide Gurpreet Singh alias Gopi at the New Delhi airport after trapping the duo in Thailand in an operation conducted in tandem with central agencies.
The arrest of Mintoo, 47, and Gopi, 27, comes a day after the state police arrested top Khalistan Tiger Force (KTF) terrorist Ramandeep Singh alias Goldy who, after escaping from Thailand, was nabbed in Malaysia and brought back to India on Thursday.
The intelligence wing of the Punjab police has intensified efforts to track wanted terrorists based abroad. Intelligence leads were received, developed and shared with the central agencies. And police teams were sent to Thailand for liaison and coordination with the Thai authorities and Indian central agencies.
“The state government’s primary concern is to maintain peace in Punjab and not permit the ISI (Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence) or anti-national elements to disrupt peace and communal harmony,” director general of police (DGP) Sumedh Singh Saini said at a news conference.
The DGP said Mintoo was increasingly active in the past three years, repeatedly attempting to kill Punjab-based Hindu leaders, and was also wanted in 10 cases registered in Punjab.
Mintoo was the mastermind behind an audacious conspiracy to commit terrorist strikes on August 15, 2014. “However, the Punjab police succeeded in foiling it. The high alert on the eve of Independence Day was partly due to Mintoo’s plans to carry out terrorist strikes. His arrest is a major blow to the Pakistan-based terrorists and their ISI mentors,” the state police claimed.
The self-styled KLF chief was wanted in at least 10 terrorist offences. His aide Gopi had been tasked with executing targeted killings of Hindu leaders in 2013, which the Punjab police foiled.
The police added that Mintoo had in 2013 masterminded attempts to disturb peace in Punjab by planning “killings of Hindu leaders”. The police had busted modules and sleeper cells in September 2013 with the arrest of three persons (Sukhjinder Singh, Narinderpal Singh and Surinder Singh alias Chhinda) and the recovery of an AK-47 rifle with 20 cartridges, one 0.38-bore Smith and Wesson revolver (made in US) with five cartridges and one .45-bore Taurus pistol (made in Brazil) with three cartridges.
“This sleeper cell was controlled and operated by Gopi and masterminded by Mintoo who was then in Pakistan. This cell had been assigned the task of assassinating a prominent Pathankot-based Shiv Sena leader,” the police said.
Another module masterminded by Mintoo was busted in Amritsar in August 2013 with the arrest of Karandeep Singh alias Harry, Jagdeep Singh and Satbir Singh. A prominent Amritsar-based Hindu leader was the target of this module, as per the police.
The police said Mintoo had raised another terrorist module led by Manjeet Singh alias Jeeta for targeting Dera Sacha Sauda head Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh and Piara Singh Bhaniaranwala. This module was neutralised by the police with the arrest of Manjeet and his accomplices.
The operation of ‘tracking and locating’ Mintoo and Gopi was coordinated by Gaurav Yadav, inspector general (IG), counter-intelligence, and Ananaya Gautam, deputy inspector general (DIG), counter-intelligence, according to additional director general of police (ADGP), intelligence wing, Hardeep Singh Dhillon.
Police dossier on terrorists
The arrested self-styled Khalistan Liberation Force (KLF) chief Harminder Singh alias Mintoo was born at Dalli village of Jalandhar district in April 1967. In the 1980s, his family had shifted to Goa.
Mintoo was using a fake Malaysian passport issued in the name of Gurdeep Singh and a fake Malaysian ID card.
While in Pakistan, he had visited Europe in 2010. In June 2013, he left Pakistan again for an 11-month tour of Europe. He visited Italy, Belgium, Germany, France and other European countries before reaching South-East Asia in May 2014.
He then travelled to Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar, besides Thailand, where he had established a base.
His mentor was Wadhawa Singh, chief of Babbar Khalsa International (BKI).
Mintoo developed independent contacts with Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) and Europe and North America-based terrorist sympathisers and fund-raisers and planned to raise his own outfit.
His ISI handler was Colonel Azar (assumed name).
Mintoo’s aide Gurpreet Singh alias Gopi was born in October 1987 at Khokhar village of Gurdaspur district. Having obtained diploma in electrical engineering, he left for Dubai in November 2009, from where he went to Pakistan as part of religious jathas and was won over by Punjabi terrorists based in Pakistan. He was given arms training in Pakistan.