The Punjab Police on Friday brought back Jagtar Singh alias Tara, one of the assassins of former Punjab chief minister Beant Singh, from Thailand in a move that pre-empted legal attempts by the Sikh rights group to stall the extradition of the dreaded terrorist who was arrested by the Thai police on January 5.
As first reported by HT — ‘Beant assassin Tara arrested in Thailand’ on January 6 — the Thai police which had nabbed Tara on a tip-off by Punjab Police extradited him to India on Friday evening.
Immediately after the US-based Sikh organisation Sikh for Justice (SFJ) hired a Thai lawyer to challenge the January 7 Thai court order to extradite Tara, a Punjab Police team was sent to Thailand to expedite the extradition proceedings, a top Punjab Police source said.
Tara, 40, was brought back in a Jet Airways flight that took off from Bangkok at 7.30 pm Indian time (8.50 pm Thai time) and reached Indira Gandhi International Airport, New Delhi, around 12.05 am on the intervening night of January 16-17.
It is almost 11 years after making a sensational escape on January 22, 2004, from the high-security Burail Jail in Chandigarh by digging a 75-feet-long tunnel that Tara is again in the custody of Punjab Police.
“A four-member Punjab Police party positioned in Bangkok is bringing Tara to India on Friday after his extradition by Thailand. After completion of administrative formalities, Tara was handed over to the Punjab Police team,” a Punjab Police spokesperson said.
The news agency AP, quoting Thai police lieutenant general Prawut Thawonrsiri reported, “Thai police had sought permission from Thailand’s Supreme Court to send Tara back to India. They were given approval by the court on Thursday. He (Tara) was sent back….“The rights groups on Friday appealed to the Thai government to block Tara’s extradition saying there was a “strong possibility” that he would be tortured if sent back to India.
Rajpura DSP Rajinder Singh Sohal was camping in Bangkok since January 13 for liaison and coordination with the Thai authorities, while a three-member police team headed by Tejinderjit Singh Virk, DSP, counter-intelligence, landed in Bangkok on January 15.
The arrest of Tara, self-styled chief of the Khalistan Tiger Force, was a culmination of an operation conducted in coordination with the central agencies based on specific leads provided by Punjab Police.
The operation had started in August 2014 when the counter-intelligence wing of the Punjab Police had tracked Tara to Thailand.
A separate police party headed by Jaskaran Singh Teja, superintendent of police, detective, Patiala, will bring Tara from the Delhi airport to Patiala. The dreaded terrorist will be produced in a court in Patiala on Saturday where police remand for his questioning will be sought.
According to the police, Tara was living in Thailand under a fake identity and on a Pakistani passport as Gurmeet Singh, son of Kaka Singh.
A Punjab Police team had gone to Thailand last year and camped there after getting a tip-off. Tara went underground. The hunt for Tara, however, led the Punjab Police to three other wanted terrorists.