A suspected member of the gang that broke into a Punjab jail and freed a Khalistani militant has been arrested in Uttar Pradesh, police said on Sunday.
Palwinder Singh, a wanted criminal, confessed to his involvement in the daring raid, police said. A cache of arms and ammunition was found in his vehicle --- a Fortuner SUV.
An alert was sounded in northern states after Khalistani militant Harminder Singh ‘Mintoo’, his aide and four gangsters escaped from the high-security Nabha prison following a raid by a group of about 10 gunmen in the morning.
Police recovered a self-loading rifle, two rifles, cartridges and cash from the 29-year-old Palwinder’s possession after he was arrested in Shamli district’s Kairana, said Ajay Anand, the Meerut zone inspector general.
“He has been taken at some secret location for interrogation. We have informed Punjab police, and the interrogation is underway,” Anand said.
Daljeet Singh Chowdhary, the UP additional director general of police (law and order), said: “...Harminder Singh ‘Mintoo’ was travelling with Palwinder in the Fortuner (now with UP police). But Mintoo got down at Panipat.”
He said police recovered two more vehicles used in the Punjab jailbreak --- one Honda City and one i20. These were reportedly found in Haryana.
Javeed Ahmad, the director general of UP police, congratulated his force for the “breakthrough” in the case.
Well done Shamli police in nabbing one of the crls involved in Nabha Punjab jailbreak. Breakthrough in case. Shabash.— Javeed (@javeeddgpup) November 27, 2016
Palwinder was caught in a congested market area after two policemen chased his vehicle down. Police had been on the lookout for a Fortuner SUV, which was used to ferry the escapees from Nabha jail.
One such SUV, with a Haryana license number ‘HR 20-AD 7659’, was coming from Pilibhit when police spotted it at around 5:45 pm.
As the constables reached the vehicle, Palwinder jumped out with a bag and tried to escape. But he was pinned down. UP police announced Rs 50,000 each for the two personnel who caught hold of Palwinder.
In 2013, Palwinder was arrested by Patiala police in connection with the killing of a policeman in Jalandhar.
Five armed men freed Palwinder this March after firing on policemen at a civil hospital where he was brought for dental examination in Patiala.
(With inputs from HTC Lucknow and Patiala)