3 arrested suspects in Ayodhya have Khalistan links, says UP ATS - Hindustan Times

3 arrested suspects in Ayodhya have Khalistan links, says UP ATS

By, Lucknow
Jan 20, 2024 09:03 AM IST

The three accused were identified as Rajasthan residents Shankar Dussad alias Shankar Jajod, Ajit Kumar Sharma and Pradeep Puniya, police said.

Three days before the ‘Pran Pratishtha’ ceremony in Ayodhya, the UP Anti-Terror Squad (ATS) has found Khalistan links of three suspects held in Ayodhya on Thursday, said senior police officials here on Friday.

Representational Image
Representational Image

The official said the suspicion on the three deepened when a recorded voice message by Khalistan leaders was circulated on some people’s mobile phones in Lucknow. The recorded voice message was in a male voice. In the message, a man posing as Khalistan terrorist Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, who holds dual citizenship of the US and Canada, addressing chief minister Yogi Adityanath, said that Sikh for Justice (SFJ), a US-based group that supports the secession of Punjab from India, was going to hold the UP CM accountable on January 22 and Ram Temple consecration was not going to save him, official said.

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The recorded message also mentioned the arrest of two SFJ members from Ayodhya, the official added.

UP police director general (DG), law and order, Prashant Kumar, confirmed that the three accused were identified as Rajasthan residents Shankar Dussad alias Shankar Jajod, Ajit Kumar Sharma and Pradeep Puniya. He said Shankar Dussad and Pradeep Puniya were residents of the Sikar district while Ajit Kumar Sharma was a resident of the Jhunjhunu district.

He said Dussad was in touch with Pannun through another Canada-based arms smuggler Lakhbir Singh Sandhu alias Landa. He said the Khalistan leaders had asked Dussad to visit Ayodhya and prepare a map of the site. He said Dussad and his two accomplices were taken into custody during the checking of the vehicle in front of Trimurti Hotel in Ayodhya on Thursday.

Kumar said Dussad revealed that he had brought along two of his associates to help him conduct a recce of Ayodhya and prepare a map. The officials said Dussad had put the saffron flag on the SUV so that police did not suspect them, he said, adding the trio was being interrogated further.

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The ATS investigators said that two different identity proofs were recovered from Dussad. The SIM card Dussad was using was in the name of one Dharamveer Mahala while his SUV’s registration papers were also forged, an ATS official said.

Sharing further details in a press note, the ATS officials informed that Dussad was released on bail from Central Jail, Bikaner, on May 15, 2023, after spending over seven years in jail since March 21, 2016.

They said Dussad forged links with Khalistan groups while staying in Bikaner Jail when he met a prisoner Lakhbinder Singh who asked him to meet his nephew Pumma through whom he came in touch with Canada-based Khalistani leader Sukhdool Singh Gill alias Sukha Duneke, who was shot dead by unknown assailants in September 2023. He said Dussad was in touch with Duneke and Landa through WhatsApp.

The ATS officials said Dussad was a close aide of slain notorious gangster Rajendra Jaat, and he had taken over his gang after Jaat was killed by five assailants in front of his house in Sikar, Rajasthan in December 2022. They said Dussad had a long criminal background, with around seven cases registered against him in different districts of Rajasthan between 2007 and 2014. He was involved in the murders of Congress’s youth wing leader Ram Krishna Sihag in 2011 and prisoner Balveer Banuda in Bikaner Jail in 2014.

Meanwhile, the police in Ayodhya have intensified vehicle checking and vigil across the town to avert any untoward incident before the mega event on January 22.

Directives have also been issued across the state to intensify checking after the recorded audio messages in English went viral on social media.

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