Bomb at Chandigarh Model Jail: Pro-Khalistan outfit member involved; NIA to take over probe, say police
Jaswinder Singh Multani, a prominent member of banned pro-Khalistan outfit Sikhs for Justice, was involved in the planting of the bomb near Model Jail in Chandigarh, police probe has found
Police investigation into the recovery of a bomb near Model Jail, Sector 51, in April this year has established the involvement of Jaswinder Singh Multani, a prominent member of banned pro-Khalistan outfit Sikhs for Justice (SFJ).
With the discovery, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) is set to take over the case.
A close associate of US-based SFJ founder Gurpatwant Singh Pannu, Multani, 45, was also the mastermind of the 2021 Ludhiana court blast case and was arrested in Germany in December last year. Hailing from Hoshiarpur, Punjab, he is known as an expert in radicalising Sikh youth to take part in extremist activities. Along with his Pakistani associates, he is believed to have been allegedly planning to target Delhi and Mumbai as well.
Punjab police had also booked him last year for an alleged plot to kill farmer leader Balbir Singh Rajewal to spread unrest. He has earlier been under investigation for terror-related incidents in Punjab in 2021, apart from allegedly sending consignments of weapons, explosives, drugs, pistols and hand grenades with the help of Pakistan-based operatives.
On April 23, a team of Chandigarh Police’s operations cell had discovered the bomb after noticing smoke near the jail’s wall while patrolling the area. It was concealed in a bag with a box, detonator and some burnt wires. The bomb was defused by a National Security Guard (NSG) team the next day.
The detonator was wrapped in an Urdu Pakistani newspaper. The bag also contained a small polybag of nails and some printouts with “Khalistan Action Force“ written on them. During search of the area, another detonator, along with a mobile phone, was recovered on April 28.
Mobile phone calls established link
During the course of investigation, mobile phone dump data was lifted and CCTV cameras near the spots were analysed.
“Several suspicious numbers were short-listed and one of them was found switched off since the discovery of the bomb. Further analysis revealed that the number was in the name of JS Multani and was used to make an international call to Germany,” said a senior official.
Sources added that scrutiny of the calls revealed that Multani had assured to supply material for the bomb and another call was also made after planting the bomb.
“This was an attempt of separatist organisations to show their presence in the city,” shared a senior police official, not willing to be named.
“Investigations have pointed towards involvement of Multani. We are now in the process of handing over the investigation to NIA,” said Kuldeep Singh Chahal, senior superintendent of police, Chandigarh.
“We have also added requisite sections of Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) to the FIR registered after the recovery of the bomb on April 23,” added Chahal.
On April 24, police had registered an FIR under Sections 3 and 4 of the Explosive Substance Act at the Sector-49 police station. Now, Sections 13, 18 and 20 of the UAPA have been added.
The Model Jail holds some Khalistani terrorists, including Babbar Khalsa International (BKI) members Jagtar Singh Tara and Paramjit Singh Bheora, who were convicted of the assassination of former Punjab chief minister Beant Singh. Others held guilty in the case, including Lakhwinder Singh Lakha, Shamsher Singh and Gurmeet Singh, are also imprisoned here.
Tara and Bheora, along with Jagtar Singh Hawara, who is now imprisoned in Delhi’s Tihar Jail, had earlier escaped from the Chandigarh jail after digging a 109-foot tunnel in January 2004, while the assassination case was under trial.
Hawara was re-arrested in 2005 for his involvement in the Delhi twin blasts, while Bheora was re-arrested in 2006 by the Delhi Police while planning to set up a base in Delhi.