Three with links to pro-Khalistan groups held in Haryana’s Sonepat: Police

Sonepat police on Tuesday claimed to have busted a module with the arrest of three men with alleged links to pro-Khalistani outfits.

According to police, the accused were allegedly involved in targeted killings in Punjab at the behest of their handlers abroad and had allegedly received funding from pro-Khalistan groups to create an atmosphere of fear in Punjab and other parts.

Police said the accused — identified as Sagar, alias Binni; Sunil, alias Pahalwan; and Jatin, alias Rajesh — were arrested from their native Juan village in Sonepat. An AK 47 assault rifle with 49 rounds and three foreign-made pistols were recovered from their possession, the police said.

Police said their probe has found that the arrested three were allegedly in touch with Khalistani separatists Lakhbir Singh Rode (International Sikh Youth Federation, based in Pakistan), Australia-based Gurjant Singh, alias Janta, and Hardeep Singh Nijjar and Arshdeep Singh Dala, both based in Canada.

Sonepat SP, Rahul Sharma, said police had received intelligence reports that three men from a village in Sonepat were in touch with militants from pro-Khalistani outfits Khalistan Tiger Force and International Sikh Youth Federation through various social media apps. They were arrested after a raid by Crime Branch teams, he said.

“Preliminary probe has found that the accused were involved in targeted kills in Punjab to create an atmosphere of fear,” Sharma said. “They have carried out a murder and were planning to commit more. They received funding from abroad and we are checking details of their bank accounts. So far, we have found that they had received Rs 5 lakh to Rs 6 lakh from Khalistani outfits abroad.”

The SP said: “It cannot be specifically said that they had planned killings around the time of Punjab elections but investigation has found that one murder took place in December and another had been planned close to the elections. The handlers based abroad and their hidden modules provided weapons to the accused from Mohali and Kharar. The handlers made arrangements for their accommodation, vehicles and provided them with a target for the killings.”

Police said the kingpin of the gang — Sagar, alias Binny — was an associate of a gangster, Ravinder Pughthala, who was killed in an encounter in 2017 and had been accused in several cases of attempt to murder and under Arms Act.

The accused had allegedly killed one Avtar Singh at Udhampur Kalan village in Morinda, Ropar, on December 8, on the directions of Arshdeep Singh, and were planning another murder in Mohali, according to police.

Police said one more associate of the accused from Sonepat had been identified and raids were being carried out to arrest him. Punjab police teams have been informed and are on their way to interrogate the accused, police said on Saturday.

An FIR has been registered under Sections 16, 17, 18, 20, 21 of Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), Section 120-B (criminal conspiracy) of IPC, and Arms Act at Mohana police station in Sonepat, police said.

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