The police late on Friday night arrested a former Punjab Police assistant sub-inspector (ASI) suspected to be behind a bomb blast in a bus in Haryana's Shahbad town on May 10, 1985. Santokh Singh Bajwa, 70, who was produced before a court on Saturday and remanded in seven-day police custody, was arrested at a check post, laid following a tip-off to the crime branch of Chandigarh Police, on the road dividing sectors 37 and 38.
The police claimed that Bajwa, who was a national-level athlete in the early 60s, used a fake identity to avoid arrest and was declared a proclaimed offender a month after the blast. His name in the driving licence and a press card he was carrying was Balwant Singh. Two people had died, while several others were injured, in the blast allegedly carried out by Bajwa and his accomplices - Gurbaksh Singh, Kuldeep Singh and Pritam Singh - who were later arrested by Haryana Police.
A native of Adhoi village in Kurukshetra district of Haryana, Bajwa had, police said, managed to flee after carrying out the blast and was declared a proclaimed offender in September 1985. His accomplices were booked under sections 302, 307, 153, 124-A of the IPC and 3 and 4 of the Explosives Act.
Bajwa, who was also arrested during the emergency in 1975, was going towards Kharar in an Indica car when he was intercepted at 11.45pm on Friday. Deputy superintendent of police (Crime) Satbir Singh said they got information that Bajwa was travelling in an Indica Car (DL-4CM-1615) "He had changed his name with the help of forged documents. The press card, which is of a freelance journalist, he was carrying is also fake," the DSP said, adding that he also used to carry unlicenced weapons with him. Crime branch inspector Ranjodh Singh was heading the police team that nabbed Bajwa.
Ranjodh Singh said that during verification, Bajwa initially disclosed his name as Balwant Singh. He also flashed a driving licence bearing the name of Balwat Singh on it.
Crime branch officials claimed that while searching Bajwa's car, they recovered a.30 bore pistol, which had five live cartridges, a 12 bore rifle with two live cartridges and 19 live cartridges. A laptop, a video camera, a DVD and three video cassettes were also seized.
Bajwa, DSP Satbir Singh said, has admitted that his real name is Santokh Singh Bajwa. Sector39 police have booked him under sections 419, 420, 467, 468, 471 of the IPC and 25, 54 and 59 of the Arms Act.
Profile of accused:
Santokh Singh Bajwa, the police said, disclosed that he was a national-level athlete in the early 60s. Bajwa claimed he had taken part in the national games at Allahabad in 1963 as a member of a 400-metre relay race team and won the gold medal. Bajwa claimed that he also stood second in the 400-metre race in an inter-university championship at DAV College in Jalandhar. He was recruited in Punjab Police under the sports quota.
After leaving his police job, Bajwa work as the hostel superintendent of ITI-Samrala in Ludhiana district from 1965 to 1967. In 1968, he went to Canada and worked there for two years. There, police said, Bajwa came in the contact with Hardyal Singh Bains and became an active member of the Communist Party of Canada.
In 1970, he returned to India and started a monthly magazine, Kirti Yug, with himself as the editor and publisher. Bajwa also took care of his farm at his native village during this period and also came in contact with his accomplices in the blast: Gurbaksh Singh and Kuldeep Singh, both farmers from Shahbad, and Paramjit Singh, a resident of Ludhiana. From 1976 to May 1985, he stayed in Shahbad.
The police claimed after carrying out the blast in a Haryana Roadways bus, he stayed in Himachal Pradesh, Punjab and Haryana, as Balwant Singh. The accused had been getting financial support from his three friends namely Gurdeep Singh, Amarjit Singh and Kabul Singh, who he had met in Canada.