The accused, facing trial for allegedly assassinating Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) leader Ravinder Gosain, “used to get their execution plans from Pakistan and several other countries over various social networking sites,” said National Investigation Agency (NIA) in its chargesheet that was filed against 15 persons in a Special NIA Court of Additional District and Sessions Judge Anshul Berry here Friday. The case will now come up for hearing on May 22. Gosain was shot dead outside his house in Ludhiana early on the morning of October 17, 2017.
“The conspiracy had its footprints in several countries including Pakistan, the UK, Australia, France, Italy and the UAE,” NIA said in its 1500-page chargesheet.
The NIA added, “Killing of Gosain was part of a transnational conspiracy hatched by the senior leadership of the Khalistan Liberation Force. Eight incidents of targeted killings/attempted killings were executed as part of this conspiracy between January 2016 and October 2017 in Punjab. All the persons targeted belonged to certain specific communities and organisations. Objective of the conspiracy was to destabilise law and order situation in Punjab and revive fledgling terrorism in the state.”
The chargesheet mentioned the accused used to communicate with each other through applications like Signal and Skype. It added that they received the entire planning and training on escaping CCTV cameras and execution of the crime on mobile application Signal.
The NIA for the first time, in this case, has used “protected witnesses”. The chargesheet mentioned 172 prosecution witnesses that include 28 “protected” ones whose identity will not be disclosed to anyone, not even the defence counsel, during the trial.
Among the accused, the NIA has named Harmeet Singh alias PhD (suspected to be in Pakistan), Gurjinder Singh Shastri (in Italy), Gursharanbir Singh (the UK) and Gurjant Singh (Australia).
Harminder Singh Mintoo, who died in Patiala jail on April 18 was also named in the chargesheet as an accused, but the NIA abated his name post his death. The NIA has also moved an application for discharging Taljeet Singh alias Jimmy, from the case.
How the conspiracy was hatched?
The chargesheet mentioned Mintoo and Shastri had first hatched the conspiracy in 2013. Shastri was a good friend of accused Hardeep Singh Shera’s uncle, with whom he used to live in Italy. Shera came in contact with Mintoo, who allegedly started radicalising him, through Shastri in 2013. They used to remain in touch on Skype.
In November 2014, Mintoo was arrested by Thailand police, after which Shera and Shastri remained in touch through his Skype account. Shastri promised finances to Shera and asked him to work for the cause of ‘panth’.
Shastri also took Shera to Paris in France in June 2013 where they met Jagtar Singh alias Jaggi Johal who gave 3,000 British pounds to Shera.
Both Shera and accused Ramandeep Singh alias Canadian received a total of Rs 23.14 lakh from their handlers through different channels including hawala for carrying out the killings.
Shera spent Rs 4.85 lakh on purchasing weapons from gangster Dharminder Singh alias Gugni. He also purchased a Toyota Innova, 9mm, .32 bore and .30 bore pistols, which were used in the killings. The arms were purchased from Uttar Pradesh-based supplier Malook Tomar.
The NIA also recovered Shera’s pictures with the weapons from his iPhone after his arrest.
When Bhagapurana police was investigating a case registered in 2016, they found traces of the killers. Punjab police arrested one Ramandeep Singh in November 2017.
During Singh’s interrogation, police learnt about his accomplices and the mystery behind the targeted killings.