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Thursday, Sep 29, 2022

Sidhu Moosewala murder probe: Key accused conducted recce to target Salman Khan, says Punjab DGP

Canada-based Goldy Brar had promised to settle him, sixth shooter in Dubai.

Moosewala was killed in Mansa on May 29 when he along with his friend and cousin was travelling in a jeep to Jawahar Ke village. A day earlier, the Punjab Police had pruned his security cover on a temporary basis. (Express photo)

A key accused in the Sidhu Moosewala murder case had conducted reconnaissance of Salman Khan in Mumbai, at the behest of jailed gangster Lawrence Bishnoi, to draw up a strategy to kill the actor, Punjab Police chief Gaurav Yadav on Sunday said.

Bishnoi had approached Kapil Pandit, who was among three accused in Moosewala killing arrested from the India-Nepal border a day ago , through Canada-based gangster Goldy Brar and Sampat Nehra, the Director General of Police said.

“Pandit’s interrogation revealed that he was approached by Bishnoi through Nehra and Brar to target Bollywood actor Salman Khan. Along with Sachin Bishnoi and Santosh Yadav, he had carried out reconnaissance in Mumbai. They spent a lot of time in Mumbai. During the investigation, we will verify this angle too,” said Yadav, addressing a press conference in Chandigarh.

The police chief said Pandit had jumped parole in 2021 that he got to attend the last rites of his mother and had been absconding since then.

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“Whatever disclosures they made are yet to be corroborated. If the need arises, we will send a team to Mumbai. It is a preliminary disclosure,” Yadav added.

When contacted an officer from Mumbai crime branch said that once they get information from Punjab Police, they may seek custody of the accused or send a team to Punjab to question him in connection with the threat to the actor. The crime branch had been investigating the case where a threat letter was received by Salman’s father Saleem Khan at Bandra Bandstand where he took a morning walk everyday.

During his interrogation in connection with the Moosewala killing, Bishnoi had admitted to plotting to kill Salman, saying he wanted to “teach the actor a lesson”. Bishnoi had told investigators that he had sent Sampat Nehra to Mumbai to do a recce around Salman’s house. The actor was targeted apparently over the the 1998 blackbuck poaching case, in which the Rajasthan High Court had acquitted him. The blackbuck is revered by the Bishnois. Sampat Nehra was arrested in Bengaluru in June 2018.

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The Punjab Police, in a joint operation with Delhi Police and central agencies, Saturday arrested Pandit, Mundi and Rajinder Joker from an Indo-Nepal checkpoint in Kharibari police station area of Darjeeling district in West Bengal in what the DGP said was “culmination of months-long intelligence-based operation”.

Mundi was among the six shooters who had fired indiscriminately at Moosewala on May 29 killing the singer. Pandit and Joker are accused of providing logistic support and weapons to the shooters. A court in Mansa district Sunday remanded the trio in police custody for six days.

The DGP said of the total 35 accused in the Moosewala killing, 23 have been arrested.

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Police had identified six shooters — Priyavrat Fauji, Kashish, Ankit Sersa, Mundi, Manpreet Singh and Jagrup Singh Roopa — who were part of two modules involved in the killing. While Punjab Police had gunned down Roopa and Manpreet in an encounter, the special cell of the Delhi Police have arrested Fauji, Kashish and Sersa.

The DGP said Mundi, Fauji, Kashish and Sersa were together in a vehicle, arranged by gangster Jaggu Bhagwanpuria, when they had intercepted Moosewala. He said Joker was already stationed in Nepal and was in touch with Goldy Brar, “the mastermind of the murder”. Brar was also the mastermind of their escape plan and had promised to settle them in Dubai, Yadav said.

Sharing details of their escape plan, DGP said, “Mundi and Pandit had reached West Bengal shifting their base from Haryana, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. They planned to reach Dubai through Nepal using fake passports.” He said the alternate plan was to reach Thailand through land route via Nepal and Bhutan or if fake passports were delivered to them in Nepal, they would take a flight to Bangkok and later reach Dubai.

He said Fauji was identified through CCTV footage and the first major breakthrough came when Manpreet Bhau and Manpreet Manna, who had arranged a vehicle used by shooters, were arrested. Then on May 31, the Punjab Police brought Saraj Mintoo from jail on production remand. “We carried out a scientific investigation,” he added.

The DGP said a red-corner notice has been issued against Goldy Brar and efforts were on to get the accused who were abroad extradited.

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Responding to a question on Moosewala’s father Balkaur Singh levelling allegations against some other persons, Yadav said they have been named as accused and further investigations were on.

“We are committed to ensuring justice in the Moosewala case. Our endeavour would be to make a water-tight case to get all the accused convicted,” added Yadav.

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He further said Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann was monitoring this case every two weeks. “There was a strong political will to solve this case,” Yadav asserted.

Moosewala was killed in Mansa on May 29 when he along with his friend and cousin was travelling in a jeep to Jawahar Ke village. A day earlier, the Punjab Police had pruned his security cover on a temporary basis.

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His vehicle was waylaid and bullets were sprayed on him by six shooters. Goldy Brar, who is a member of the Lawrence Bishnoi gang, had claimed the responsibility for the murder. Goldy Brar had executed the plan to murder Moosewala to avenge the murder of Youth Akali leader Vicky Middukhera who was killed last year. The name of Shaganpreet Singh, said to be Moosewala’s manager, had figured in the killing of Middukhera.

Meanwhile, responding to a query, DGP Yadav said: “Ninety-five per cent RDX delivery is still through the Punjab border.” He said the sea route and Jammu and Kashmir border were being used to smuggle heroin into India.

The DGP said that RDX was making its way into Punjab through drones. “It was in August 2019 that drone delivery started,” said the DGP, adding that as compared to around 80 sorties last year, there were around 125 drone sorties to Punjab from the Pakistan side this year, registering an increase of about 50 per cent. He said there were “targeted delivery zones”.

The DGP was, however, all praise for the Border Security Force . “It is because of BSF’s strictness that delivery through drones started… Earlier, the riverine border crossing was (the route taken for smuggling). It is a cat and mouse game,” the DGP said.

The DGP said after Shingar Cinema blast, terrorist elements were not getting recruits, but a nexus of terrorist-gangsters came to the fore after Nabha jail break. “Punjab youth is not associated with terrorism ideology. It was at the time of Nabha jailbreak that terrorist-gangster nexus came to the light for the first time,” he added.

The DGP said gangsters were being used as “cannon fodder” by an agency of other country for carrying out terrorist activities in India.

First published on: 11-09-2022 at 02:50:03 pm
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