At a remote village nearly 6 km from Ponda, a well-to-do family of seven spent the day tracking every news flash about the Nabha jailbreak on TV. The family included the mother of KLF chief Harminder Singh Mintoo, his younger and older brother, their respective spouses and three children, all in their teens. As TV channels reported the arrest of Mintoo, the family heaved a sigh of relief.
“Since the jailbreak, for whatsoever reason we have been receiving a barrage of calls, WhatsApp messages from our relatives and friends in Punjab informing us about the developments in a sympathetic tone. But frankly we don’t need that. Mintoo is a stranger to us as much he is to any law abiding citizen. We have broken all ties with Mintoo since many years…,” said Mintoo’s 49-year-old younger brother.
The family, which hails from Punjab, had shifted to Goa in 1991. It claims to have been out of touch with Mintoo since 2006. “Unlike being reported in the media, the decision to move from Punjab — first to Mumbai and then to Goa — was only due to business reasons and it had nothing to do with Harminder’s behaviour or any of his activities in the native village,” said the family’s eldest son.
Mintoo had joined his family in Goa in 1992 and was involved in construction-related work. Also, between 2003 to 2005, he was elected as a Pradhan at Sri Guru Singh Sabha in Betim, which is close to the state capital city of Panaji. Betim Gurudwara authorities said that initially they were not aware of Mintoo’s background despite hints from his family. “In 2014, when the media flashed news of his arrest from some airport, only then we came to know about it. Since, then we don’t have the family’s contact,” Gurudwara president Harvindar Singh said. Asked if the family tried to counsel Mintoo into mending his ways, his mother said: “He was old enough to know what he was doing.”
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