Nabha jailbreak: A year later two escapees among 8 accused still on the run | punjab | top | Hindustan Times
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Nabha jailbreak: A year later two escapees among 8 accused still on the run

The daring act, the kind of which was never seen even during the heydays of militancy in Punjab, had rocked the nation.

punjab Updated: Nov 26, 2017 21:09 IST
Vishal Rambani
Vishal Rambani
Hindustan Times, Patiala
Nabha jailbreak,Punjab gangsters,Vicky Gounder
Two militants and four gangsters escaped the high security prison in Nabha in November last year with the help of 15 other gangsters.(HT File)

A year after the sensational Nabha jailbreak in Punjab’s Patiala, wherein two militants and four gangsters escaped the so-called maximum-security prison with the help of 15 other gangsters, the police have failed to nab eight accused, including two escapees and a Hong Kong-based handler.

Khalistan Liberation Force (KLF) chief Harminder Singh Mintoo, another militant Kashmir Singh and gangsters Vicky Gounder, Gurpreet Singh Sekhon, Neeta Deol and Amandeep Dhotian had escaped on the morning of November 27 last year.

The daring act, the kind of which was never seen even during the heydays of militancy in Punjab, had rocked the nation.

The gangsters, three of them dressed as policemen, broke open the high security jail and freed the six inmates after indulging in indiscriminate firing, leaving the jail staff and police helpless.

Police later re-arrested KLF chief Mintoo, gangsters Gurpreet Singh Sekhon, Neeta Deol, Amandeep Dhotian, but militant Kashmir Singh and gangster Gounder are still eluding the police net.

Apart from the six escapees and 15 attackers, there were 15 others who had helped or harboured the gangsters.

Superintendent of police (detective) Harvinder Singh Virk told HT that a total of 28 accused have so far been arrested in the case, which include four escapees, 11 perpetrators and 14 others who helped the gangsters involved in the jailbreak.

“Eight accused, including two escapees and four perpetrators, are still at large. Various teams are working to nab them. Police have also alerted central agencies to nab Hong Kong-based Romi, who was handling and funding the jailbreak operation,” he added.

Meanwhile, nine jail officials and other private individuals, who were booked earlier, were found innocent during the investigations. Their names were later dropped from the FIR.

GOUNDER A MAJOR HEADACHE FOR COPS

After the jailbreak, Gounder has became a major headache for the police as he and his gang members have been indulging in murder, loot and ransom ever since.

Gounder was spotted several times in Punjab, but the police could not arrest him. He and his associates murdered three members of a rival gang, kidnapped two doctors for ransom and have been also collecting protection money from certain individuals, said a police official, requesting anonymity.

Harry Chatha of Amritsar, Sukhmeet Singh Sukha Gurdaspur, Gurpreet Singh Gopi Ghanshampuria, Gurpreet Kaura and Jalandhar-based Prema Lahoria were the gangsters, who were involved in the jailbreak, but are still on the run. They are now active in various criminal activities.

Punjab director general of police (DGP) Suresh Arora recently directed he police officials to launch a massive manhunt to nab Gounder and the others accused who are still eluding the police.

PLANNING AND EXECUTION OF CRIME

As per the prosecution, Hong Kong-based Romi provided funds, and gangster Gurpreet Sekhon and Neeta Deol, who were close to KLF chief Mintoo took the challenge to break the jail, saying “they will do what militants could not dare to do.”

The jailbreak was meticulously planned — a video of the planned act was made in the jail and sent out to their accomplices, the gangsters did the recce twice and made videos from outside the jail and finally broke open the prison on a Sunday, when everyone was relaxing. The jail staff was taken off guard and could not fire even a single bullet to counter the attackers.

Gangsters Sulakhan Singh Mattewal, Prema Lahoria and Gurpreet Gopi were dressed as policemen and opened fire. They successfully freed the six inmates while their other accomplices provided the cover fire.

Meanwhile, a challan in the case was presented in the court, which has framed the charges against the accused, and the trial is on.

A DARING ACT: FACTFILE

■ 6 escapees: Khalistan Liberation Force (KCF) chief Harminder Singh Mintoo, another militant Kashmir Singh and gangsters Vicky Gounder, Gurpreet Singh Sekhon, Neeta Deol and Amandeep Dhotian were jail inmates who escaped on November 27 last year

15 attackers: There were 15 gangsters who meticulously planned the jailbreak — did recce twice and made videos from from outside the jail — before executing it on a Sunday morning

15 other accomplices: There were at least 15 others who helped and harboured the perpetrators

4 escapees re-arrested: KLF chief Mintoo was re-arrested from New Delhi on November 28, 2016, Neeta Deol from Indore on January 12, 2018, Gurpreet Sekhon from Moga on February 12 and Aman Dhotian from Jalandhar on April 2

2 STILL ON THE RUN

Militant Kashmir Singh: He is allegedly murdered a Shiv Sena leader of Gurdaspur in 2016. He is a native of Galwadi village near Khanna in Ludhiana

Vicky Gounder: Hailing from Muktsar, he originally belonged to the gang of another history-sheeter, Jaipal Singh of Ferozepur. Gounder is wanted in at least 15 cases of murder, kidnapping and robbery.

First Published: Nov 26, 2017 20:57 IST