Former Delhi Police chief Neeraj Kumar has revealed in his long-anticipated book, ‘Dial D for Don’, that capturing the mastermind of Punjab chief minister Beant Singh’s assassination was the most dangerous operation he ever undertook.
But as luck would have it, when mastermind Jagtar Singh Tara was tracked to a hideout in south Delhi, he was unarmed, save a cyanide capsule hidden in his turban. “We were half expecting the men inside to be sitting with Kalashnikov rifles, ready to fire. Instead, to our surprise and relief, we found a tall, turbaned Sikh youngster sprawled leisurely in an executive chair,” Kumar told IANS in an interview, adding: “Another Sikh, but without a turban, was also seated there, in a relaxed mode. We overpowered them in no time.”
The man in turban accepted that he was Tara. This was in September 1995, barely weeks after Beant Singh’s assassination in Chandigarh by a suicide bomber. Beant Singh had become CM at the peak of the militant Khalistan (separate Sikh homeland) campaign in Punjab. Soon after he took charge, security forces ended the decade-long saga of violence in the state.
Beant Singh, Punjab CM from 1992 to 1995, along with 17 others, was killed by the Babbar Khalsa International (BKI) on August 31, 1995. He had come down from his second-floor office around 5.10p.m and was about to get into his car in the VIP porch, when Dilawar Singh, a suicide bomber in police uniform, blew himself up.
Kumar, then deputy inspector general in the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), recalls that “Tara’s arrest was one of the most risky operations I joined”. Explaining the risk, he said: “My decision to take him on without a commando unit, weapons, and bulletproof jackets, without cordoning off the area and taking some locals into confidence, could all backfire within seconds. All our combined heroism could blow up in our face.”
4 unarmed cops and a terrorist
Assisting Kumar were assistant sub-inspector Anchal Singh, constables Dharambir Singh, and Surinder Singh, all unarmed. They barged into a shop in a small single-storey municipal market in south Delhi’s Safdarjung Enclave. That’s where they found their prey.
In January 2004, Tara, who belongs to Dekwala village near Rupnagar, was among four militants who escaped from Chandigarh’s Burail jail after digging 109-foot-long tunnel. Two of them — Jagtar Singh Hawara and Paramjeet Singh Bheroa — have been arrested, while the third, Dev Singh “Devi”, not linked with the assassination but who had helped them in the escape plan, remains at large. Hawara and Bheora have since been convicted in the assassination case, while Tara’s trial is going on. He was arrested in Thailand early this year and brought to India.
Kumar’s book basically is about the Indian underworld after the 1993 serial bombings in Mumbai, which were blamed on the still fugitive mobster Dawood Ibrahim, leader of “D Company”.