Targeted killings in Punjab: UK resident Johal was on police radar for a year
Jagtar Singh Johal, 31, a non-resident India settled in the United Kingdom who is now a prime accused in the targeted killing of Hindu right-wing leaders and others in Punjab, was arrested by the state police after extensive analysis of more than 10,000 Facebook accounts of Sikh radicals active in various countries of Europe, sources have told HT.
Police have claimed that the killings were carried out by elements backed by Pakistan’s spy agency ISI and Khalistani separatist elements.
Johal, known widely by the nickname Jaggi, ran an outfit called ‘Never Forget 1984’ in the UK, and was on the radar of the intelligence wing of Punjab Police for the past more than one year. But his role actually came under the scanner after a source in the UK provided the Punjab police with “vague information” about a key man ‘Johal’ as the one of the conspirators in the killings, it is learnt.
Cops involved in the investigation said it was after this information that a battery of 100 intelligence wing staff started scanning through Facebook movement of Johal, who lives in Dumbarton in Scotland’s West Dunbartonshire council area. “We visited every person who had made a comment on fiery posts of Johal endorsing Khalistan and other issues of radicals. Some key radicals were zeroed in on, and by using our sources in the UK we kept on tracking Johal’s links with other groups. It was found that he was actively associated with the Khalistan Liberation Force (KLF) and knew some pro-Khalisanti forces in Pakistan as well,” said a senior officer who did not want to be named.
The cops added, though, that this was not the only information based on which Johal was arrested in Rama Mandi town of Jalandhar on November 4. He had arrived in India on October 2 for his marriage in Jalandhar. Johal had also visited India on April 4 this year and recently visited the US, Canada and France too.
Sources in the police said he used an email account, GURI_420@hotmail.com, which had vital clues.
Unravelling the link
“His involvement was once again verified from the arrest of Jimmy Singh, a Jammu resident who recently returned to India from the UK after spending many years there and was arrested on November 1 from the Delhi airport,” said an officer.
The arrests were made in a case registered at Baghapurana in Moga in December last year, after a pistol used in a murder crime was linked to Jimmy. Police said Johal and Jimmy had further revealed the names of men linked with the targeted killings. Later, one of those men named KLF chief Harminder Singh Mintoo, who is in jail.
“Johal used to radicalise people and provide the hardware for carrying out the targeted killings,” said a senior official monitoring the probe. The probe officials also claim to have found that Johal knew identity of the alleged shooter, Hardeep Singh Shera. But it is being investigated if he had met Shera, who was arrested from Fatehgarh Sahib a few days ago.
On #SaveJaggi campaign
Punjab police, meanwhile, termed a campaign launched in the UK and online to save Johal “unfortunate and uncalled for”. On twitter, the hashtag #SaveJaggi is being used for the campaign.
“We have arrested (Jaggi) Johal after through investigation. It is unfortunate that some people are running a campaign claiming his innocence. In my career of more than 35 years, I have not found any relative of an accused who admits that his or her relative has committed a crime!” remarked state director general of police (DGP) Suresh Arora.
Notably, Sikh MPs in the UK, including Preet Gill and Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi, have written to the British high commissioner in Delhi against Johal’s arrest. Another MP called Martin Docherty-Hughes has extended support too.
Meanwhile, a local court in Baghapurana on Tuesday extended the police remand of Johal till November 17.