A day after three persons were killed in a grenade attack on a Nirankari sect congregation at Adliwala village, on the outskirts of Amritsar, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh said on Monday that the attack “seemed to carry Pakistan’s signature”. He said initial investigations indicated that “the grenade used was similar to the ones being manufactured by the Pakistan Army Ordnance factory”.
“Punjab police have recovered a similar HG-84 grenade from another terror module busted last month. It indicates a high probability of involvement of inimical forces from across the border,” said Singh. The chief minister, accompanied by Cabinet colleague and Amritsar MLA Navjot Singh Sidhu and Punjab Congress president Sunil Jakhar, visited the Nirankari Bhavan in the afternoon.
Speaking to reporters later, Singh said: “Prima facie, it appears to be an act of terror by separatist forces, organised with the involvement of ISI-backed Khalistani or Kashmiri terrorist groups. We are aggressively pursuing all angles of investigation. The culprits shall be arrested soon.”
Asked about some purported sketches of the suspects being circulated on social media, he said, “When the faces of the attackers were covered, how could their sketches be made.”
Responding to a query, he said “the attack cannot be equated with the Nirankari conflict in 1978, as that was a religious matter while the Adliwala incident was purely a case of terrorism… Yesterday’s incident had no religious overtones, as per initial investigations.”
In a statement released in the evening, Singh said that “certain leads have been unearthed by the police and are being investigated”. The Punjab Police maintained silence on the probe. “Investigations are going on, but we have nothing to share with the media at this stage,” said DGP Suresh Arora. An NIA team also visited the blast site on Sunday night.
A purported video of the attack showing two men on a motorcycle, with their faces covered, was also being circulated on social media. But SSP, Amritsar (rural), Parampal Singh, said: “We have not released any pictures, sketches or videos or CCTV grabs of the suspects. They are all fake.”
The chief minister announced Rs 50 lakh reward for any information leading to the arrest of the attackers. He also announced jobs for the relatives of those killed in the attack and Rs 50,000 each to the injured.
The state has been placed on high alert. “Police nakas have been set up in all districts and patrol parties are moving around in search of suspicious objects/ activities,” said Singh. He said directions have been issued to district and police administrations across Punjab to explore the possibility of installing CCTV cameras at strategic points.
Meanwhile, three members of Satkar Committee, a radical outfit, have reportedly been detained. “Police picked up Kuldeep Singh from Modoke village, Rajan Singh from Kangna village and Satnam Singh from Lopoke villages on Sunday night. They have not been released so far,” alleged Trilochan Singh, president of the outfit. “We went to the office of the Crime Branch, but they did not give us any information about the men,” he said.
Police refused to comment on his allegations.
Explained: How controversy has chased Nirankari sect
Some months ago, there was a dispute between some Satkar Committee members and the Nirankari sect’s Chogawan branch in Amritsar — about 20 kms from Adliwala village — over construction of a Nirankari temple in Tapiala village. “We filed a police complaint against the Nirankaris for forcibly trying to construct a temple. After police asked them to put off the construction, the matter was resolved about three months ago,” said Trilochan Singh.