KZF module: Three more suspects identified, manhunt on to nab themUpdated: Sep 29, 2019 00:52 IST
Police have identified three more suspects who are allegedly members of a Khalistan Zindabad Force (KZF) terrorist module that was conspiring to execute a series of terror strikes in Punjab and adjoining states.
The module of the revived terror group, whose handlers are based in Pakistan and Germany, was busted on Sunday last with the arrest of four persons and recovery of a large cache of arms and ammunition, including AK-47 rifles, besides satellite phones from them. The weapons were flown into the Indian territory with the help of drones from the neighbouring country, the police had claimed.
Three more arrests were made later. Though no details were shared about the new suspects as it might hamper their arrest, the police said the three helped the other KZF members in clearing the weapon consignments, a senior police official privy to the development said.
Those arrested on Sunday are Balwant Singh, alias Baba, alias Nihang (45) of Tarn Taran’s Mohanpura village, Akashdeep Singh, alias Akash Randhawa (20) of Amritsar’s Naag Kalan village, Harbhajan Singh and Balbir Singh, both of Tanda in Hoshiarpur. They were nabbed from Chola Sahib village in Tarn Taran district with five AK-47 rifles, 16 magazines and 472 rounds, four China-made .30-bore pistols, eight magazines and 72 rounds; nine hand grenades, five Thuraya satellite phones besides ancillary equipment, two mobile phones, two wireless sets and ₹10 lakh in fake currency.
The police in their preliminary probe found that Maan Singh (40) had recruited Akashdeep at the behest of his Germany-based handler Gurmeet Singh, alias Bagga when both were lodged in the Amritsar jail. Maan Singh, who is already facing a case under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) and Arms Act case, has been brought from jail on production warrant.
On Wednesday, the police arrested Bagga’s brother Gurdev Singh, who allegedly introduced Maan Singh to Bagga in the Amritsar jail and plotted to smuggle arms and ammunition from Pakistan.
On Friday, Shubdeep Singh of Chicha Bhakna village was arrested for accompanying the four suspects (arrested on Sunday) to bring the weapon consignment. All seven are in police custody till October 3.
The investigating official said the two drones that were recovered for dropping weapons could not fly back to Pakistan as their batteries ran out of power.
On Friday, police had claimed to have recovered two drones — one at Muhawa village of Amritsar district on August 13 and the second in a burnt condition at Chabhal town of Tarn Taran district on Tuesday.
‘The place of weapon
delivery changed twice’
A senior police official said during interrogation of the accused, it has emerged that earlier the accused had chosen Muhawa village in Amritsar as the place of delivery of weapons through drones. The drone instead crashed at a nearby drain instead of its intended destination since its battery ran out of power, with Muhawa being far from the place where the device was flown from.
“It is being investigated whether that drone brought arms or it was just a trial,” he said.
“Then the place of delivery was changed to Bhuse village in Tarn Taran district and the drone that carried two pistols could not fly back due to low battery as the destination was far again. This drone was recovered from Chabhal as the accused had burnt it to destroy evidence,” the official said.
This time, Rajoke village in the district was selected as place of delivery and the sortie remained successful and the arms were dropped in eight sorties, he claimed.
A state special operation cell (SSOC) official had said earlier that Akashdeep sent locations for receiving the weapons to KZF’s Pakistan-based handler Ranjeet Singh alias Neeta.
First Published: Sep 29, 2019 00:52 IST