NIA to probe Ludhiana court blast case

For past three weeks, the central anti-terror agency was assisting Punjab Police informally in the probe
Alleged bomber Gagandeep Singh was killed and six people were injured in the December 23 blast, last year (Harsimar Pal Singh/HT)
Alleged bomber Gagandeep Singh was killed and six people were injured in the December 23 blast, last year (Harsimar Pal Singh/HT)
Updated on Jan 14, 2022 02:11 AM IST
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ByNeeraj Chauhan I Edited by Shilpa Ambardar, New Delhi

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Thursday took over the probe into December 23 Ludhiana court blast, in which the alleged bomber Gagandeep Singh was killed and six people were injured.

A senior official privy to the development said they took over the probe from Punjab Police after ministry of home affairs issued a notification. Initial investigations carried out by the Punjab Police have pointed towards the role of Khalistani groups.

For past three weeks, the central anti-terror agency was assisting Punjab Police informally in the probe. During the investigation, several Ludhiana Central Jail inmates are learnt to have been interrogated as Gagandeep Singh, a dismissed police officer, lodged there in 2019 in a drug-related case. He was released in September last year after spending two years in jail.

While in prison, accused Gagandeep Singh is suspected to have been introduced to several Khalistani members, including Ranjeet Singh Cheeta and Sukhwinder Boxer, who allegedly had links with Pakistani spy agency– ISI.

The NIA will now investigate the role of groups operating from other countries, including Pakistan as it has a mandate for carrying out investigations abroad and has a good database on Khalistani networks.

Accused Gagandeep was identified on the basis of technical evidence, including mobile location and later his family also recognized his body.

Initial reports had also suggested that banned outfit Sikhs for Justice (SFJ) is behind the blast after a key member of the group, Jaswinder Singh Multani, was detained by German police on December 28 from Erfurt.

However, the central agencies are yet to find any direct evidence pertaining to Multani’s involvement in the blast.

Multani was earlier under investigation for terror-related incidents in Punjab in 2021 apart from allegedly sending consignments of weapons, explosives and drugs with the help of Pakistan-based operatives. A close associate of US-based SFJ chief Gurpatwant Singh Pannu, Multani is known as an expert in radicalising Sikh youth to take part in extremist activities.

A separate first information report (FIR) filed by NIA against Multani on December 30 stated that he was “in touch with an ISI operative Jibran and Pakistan-based smuggling network members Rana Taseem, Imran and others, and is actively pursuing a conspiracy to carry out attacks in Mumbai and other parts of India, with support from his Punjab-based associates under the instruction of ISI.”

Some of Multani’s associates named in the NIA case include Jagdish Singh Bhura of the Khalistan Zindabad Force (KZF); deputy chief of KZF Gurmeet Singh, who is also associated with SFJ; Ranjeet Singh Pakhoke of Khalistan Tiger Force (KTF); Sukhdev Singh Heran and Hardeep Singh Nijjar of Babbar Khalsa International, and KTF members Paramjit Singh Pamma and Ranjeet Singh Neeta.

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Wednesday, January 26, 2022