Harmeet PhD: College lecturer who became face of ISI’s narco-terror module in Punjab
Self-styled KLF chief was being used as a conduit by Pak agency to smuggle heroin into the border state; also had links with a Dubai-based hawala operative who was banned by US recentlyUpdated: Jan 28, 2020 22:42 IST
Khalistan Liberation Force (KLF)’s self-styled chief Harmeet Singh, alias Happy PhD (39), who was reportedly killed in Lahore on Monday evening over a dispute related to drug money, had emerged as the face of Pakistan-sponsored narco-terror in Punjab through a network of smugglers, militants and hawala operatives.
A lecturer in an Amritsar college run by the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbahdhak Committee (SGPC) till 2007, Harmeet’s role as a conduit of Pakistan agency ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence) came to the fore for the first time in November 2008 when Ranjit Singh Neeta, a terrorist based in the neighbouring country, pushed weapons and drug consignments from across the border in the Ferozepur sector.
When Harmeet along with his associate Gursagar went to collect the consignment, they were cornered by the Punjab Police. He, however, managed to escape and fled to Pakistan, police had claimed. Two consignments were recovered at that time.
Set base across border
with Mintoo’s help
It was Harminder Singh Mintoo, KLF’s chief commander who died of cardiac arrest in April 2018, helped Harmeet set base in Pakistan by using his links in the country’s agencies that wanted to use him for anti-India activities.
A Punjab Police dossier on Harmeet describes him as the “most wanted terrorist” who has been aiding, abetting, operationlising and funding terrorist activities as KLF chief at the instance of the ISI.
The intelligence agency, the police say, provided him hideouts in gurdwaras where Indian agents often spotted him during religious ceremonies.
An senior cop deputed in the Punjab Police’s intelligence wing, who has been tasked with keeping tabs on the ISI’s activities in the state, said such was Harmeet’s proximity with Pakistani officials that he was present during the inauguration of the Kartarpur Corridor in November last year.
Main accused in
The National Investigation Agency (NIA) had named him as the main accused in eight cases of targeted killings of right-wing Hindu leaders in 2016-17, including RSS’s Punjab vice-president Brig Jagdish Gagneja (retd), for which he allegedly raised funds and used operatives with the help of his pro-Khalistan links in the United Kingdom.
He was declared a proclaimed offender (PO) in nine cases that were registered against him since 2009, including the one for carrying out attack on a Nirankari congregation in Amritsar’s Rajasansi, leaving three persons dead.
Red corner notices (RCNs) were issued against him in most cases.
It was claimed in various intelligence inputs corroborated by the Punjab Police that Harmeet was smuggling drugs from across the border as part of the ISI’s design to ruin the youth in Punjab.
In a case registered at the Tarsikka police station in Amritsar district on June 5, 2019, over the recovery of heroin, it was revealed that Harmeet as the main conduit of the racket used his Kashmiri associates to smuggle two consignments of drugs in February and March that year.
Drug case probe
led to revelation
On the basis of the interrogation of accused Jajbirr Singh Samra of Nirmal Singh Neeldhari, the police found that he was running the narco-terror module with the help of Dubai-based businessman Jasmeet Singh Hakimzada who used to deliver money for drugs and weapons through Amritsar money exchangers Chahat Collection, Majha Finance, and Satguru Enterprises.
The Punjab Police dossier claimed that Hakimzada, who hails from Greater Kailash in New Delhi, was designated as a ‘significant foreign narcotics trafficker’ by the Unites States Department of Treasury in February 2019.
The US agency had also imposed sanctions against Hakimzada, his family and firms in February last year for their involvement in drug trafficking and money laundering.
“It was because of Harmeet’s links with Hakimzada that this case was handed over to the NIA. People like him use pro-Khalistan sentiments to get popularity but they actually become conduits of the ISI to push drugs in Punjab,” a senior police official said.