Delhi Police are verifying the claims of a Sikh militant leader, arrested in the city on Monday after escaping from a prison in Punjab, that he was receiving instructions from Pakistan’s spy agency the ISI.
During his questioning, the 49-year-old self-styled chief of the Khalistan Liberation Force (KLF), Harminder Singh Mintoo, had disclosed the names of his two alleged ISI handlers, sources said.
According to Mintoo, one of them was based in Lahore in Pakistan while the other was in a European country, probably Germany, which was to be the KLF militant’s final destination before his freedom run was cut short by the Delhi Police.
Police refused to disclose the names given by Mintoo, saying they were yet to verify them as the militant leader could be misleading them.
Mintoo was arrested from the parking lot of the Nizamuddin railway station 17 hours after a group of armed men stormed the Nabha Jail in Punjab, freeing him and five other gangsters.
Mintoo and gangster Kashmeer Singh were dropped off at Kaithal in Haryana, where they hastily trimmed their beard and mustache before reaching Delhi using different routes and buses.
Mintoo told police that he learnt about the jailbreak plan a fortnight ago, sources said. As his handlers were looking for an opportunity to get him out of the jail, Mintoo alerted them about the plan through a common contact.
“His handlers agreed and Mintoo was provided around Rs 25,000 to allegedly manage everything in the jail. We are looking for the person who gave him the money in the jail. The role of jail staff is also being probed,” an investigator said.
After Mintoo and Kashmeer were dropped off at Kaithal, Mintoo received Rs 19,000 from the brother of Gurpreet Singh Shekhon, the alleged mastermind of the audacious strike who also broke out of the jail.
Mintoo was caught after an assistant sub-inspector got suspicious of his “improper” appearance and “extra cautious” behaviour.
Investigators believe Kashmeer was somewhere close to the parking lot when Mintoo was arrested. They are checking the footage of CCTV cameras at the station and nearby areas.
Raids are on in Delhi and adjoining states to nab him and the others absconders.
Mintoo’s escape was a huge embarrassment for the Punjab Police, which had hailed as a big success his arrest from the New Delhi airport in November 2014.
Wanted in at least 10 terrorism-related offences, including the 2008 attack on Sirsa-based Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh and recovery of explosives at Halwara air force station in 2010, Mintoo was deported from Thailand.