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Sunday, Nov 17, 2019

Amritsar grenade attack: Police suspect Pakistan-based Harmeet ‘PhD’ main conspirator of attack at Nirankari Bhawan

india Updated: Nov 20, 2018 10:54 IST
Ravinder Vasudeva
Ravinder Vasudeva
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
Investigators at the site of grenade blast at Nirankari Bhavan, in Adliwal village near Amritsar, Monday, Nov. 19, 2018.
Investigators at the site of grenade blast at Nirankari Bhavan, in Adliwal village near Amritsar, Monday, Nov. 19, 2018. (Sameer Sehgal / HT Photo )
         

Punjab Police suspects Pakistan-based Khalistan Liberation Force (KLF) leader Harmeet Singh ‘PhD’ alias Happy is the main conspirator behind the attack at Nirankari Bhawan in Amritsar on Sunday. He is also the prime suspect in strategising the targeted killings of some socio-religious leaders in the state in 2016-17.

Harmeet is a self-styled chief of the KLF since its head Harminder Mintoo was arrested by the Punjab Police from Thailand in 2014. Mintoo, who escaped from Nabha jail with a group of gangsters, died of cardiac arrest in April last year in Patiala jail.

Harmeet, who is living in Pakistan for over two decades, is a native of Amritsar district and a doctorate, which earned him the surname of ‘PhD’, his profile with the state intelligence department says.

He has also been booked by National Investigating Agency (NIA) investigating the cases of targeted killings of different community leaders, mainly those belonging to the right wing groups.

“He has radicalised many youths in Punjab through social media in the recent years and has a strong network. There is high possibility that the Amritsar blast that killed three Nirankari followers is the handiwork of his module,” a top intelligence functionary, who is monitoring the probe, revealed.

Police suspect Pakistan-based Khalistani leader Harmeet Singh ‘PhD’ alias Happy is the main conspirator of the attack at the Nirankari Bhawan in Rajasansi.
Police suspect Pakistan-based Khalistani leader Harmeet Singh ‘PhD’ alias Happy is the main conspirator of the attack at the Nirankari Bhawan in Rajasansi. ( HT Photo )

“Harmeet enjoys full-backing of Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) and he has been given the assignment of creating terror in Punjab by making pro-Khalistan modules. Using ISI’s network, Harmeet has developed strong links among terrorist groups active in Kashmir too and there were strong inputs that the Kashmiri groups may be roped in to create terror in Punjab,” said an investigating officer.

“We have strong inputs that using Kashmiri students studying in Punjab to spread terror activities was also the idea of Harmeet to make things more complex for the Indian agencies,” he said.

Similar explosives used at Maqsudan, Amritsar

Preliminary investigations suggest that explosives used in the Nirankari Bhawan attack in Amritsar were similar to the ones used at the Maqsudan police station in September this year. Probe officials say the source of explosives used in both the attacks appears to be the same.

Since two Kashmiri students have already been arrested for the Maqsudan attack, probe officials say the possibility of involvement of Kashmiri groups in Amritsar attack cannot be ruled out.

Investigating agencies have already come out with the sequence of events with regard to the Maqsudan attack. As per the probe, a courier service was used by the provider to deliver the explosives at the paying guest (PG) accommodation of two Kashmiri students — Shahid Qayoom (22) and Fazil Bashir (23) —BTech students at St Soldier College of Engineering and Technology.

These grenades were picked by two other Kashmiri students — Mir Ravoof Ahmed alias Rouf and Mir Umar Ramzan alias Gazi — who had especially flown from Srinagar to Chandigarh to reach Jalandhar on September 14, to carry out the attack.

Both Rouf and Gazi are trained operatives of Kashmir-based Ansar Ghazwat-ul-Hind (AGH) to which the arrested students were also aligned, the police said. Zakir Rashid Bhatt alias Zakir Mussa, who heads the terror outfit, masterminded and guided the attack, probe says.

“Even Qayoom and Bashir were not aware of the source from where the courier carrying grenades had arrived,” reveals the investigation.