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Monday, January 25, 2021

‘Conspirator’ in murder of Shaurya Chakra awardee held

The five accused — identified as Gurjit Singh and Sukhdeep Singh from Punjab, and Shabir Ahmad Gojree, Md. Ayub Pathan and Riyaz Rather from Kashmir —were arrested on December 7 and were allegedly working to execute targeted killings in the capital and neighbouring states.

Written by Mahender Singh Manral | New Delhi | Updated: January 1, 2021 1:47:59 am
The 62-year-old Balwinder Singh Sandhu, honoured with Shaurya Chakra in 1993 for fighting terrorism in Punjab, was gunned down Friday, months after the state government withdrew his security cover.

Gangster Sukhmeet Pal Singh alias Sukh Bhikhariwal, the alleged conspirator in the murder of Shaurya Chakra awardee Balwinder Singh Sandhu, has been deported from Dubai and arrested at IGI Airport by the Delhi Police Special Cell. This comes days after the police arrested five suspected terrorists and claimed to have busted a narco-terror nexus of ISI and pro-Khalistan militants.

The five accused — identified as Gurjit Singh and Sukhdeep Singh from Punjab, and Shabir Ahmad Gojree, Md. Ayub Pathan and Riyaz Rather from Kashmir —were arrested on December 7 and were allegedly working to execute targeted killings in the capital and neighbouring states. “The two men from Punjab are alleged associates of Bhikhariwal and were allegedly involved in the killing of Sandhu,” a senior police officer said.

A Shaurya Chakra recipient for fighting militancy in Punjab, Sandhu was gunned down at his home in Tarn Taran’s Bhikhiwind by two unidentified bikers on October 16. The attack took place months after the security cover of Sandhu (62) was removed by the state government. Sandhu’s family alleged the killing was a terror attack.

Sources told The Indian Express that intelligence agencies traced Bhikhariwal to Dubai, where he was detained. “Bhikhariwal was deported to India on Thursday and arrested. During questioning, he disclosed that he was involved in a 2016 jailbreak in Nabha, Punjab, and that he fled to Dubai after making a passport on forged documents,” the sources said.

An FIR has been registered at Special Cell police station.

According to the investigation, sources said, after the death of former KLF chief Harminder Mintoo in 2018, Harmeet Singh replaced him. “He was considered the key link between Khalistani and Kashmiri militants. He was in Pakistan and was involved as a key conspirator in a series of targeted killings of leaders of Shiv Sena, RSS and Dera Sacha Sauda. He was killed earlier this year, after which Bhikhariwal was asked to be new chief of the outfit,” police sources said.

Bhikhariwal was executing murders of such leaders to impress his superiors in the ISI, police sources said.

“Bhikhariwal was the main conspirator behind the attack on a Hindu outfit leader, Honey Mahajan, on February 10 this year. A neighbour of Mahajan died in the incident, while Mahajan was seriously injured,” an officer said.

In April, Punjab DGP Dinkar Gupta had said, “Investigation has revealed that the contract for the attack on Mahajan was awarded by gangster Sukhmeet Pal Singh. He wanted to control the liquor business in Dhariwal area and he apprehended that Mahajan could obstruct his plans.”

Bhikhariwal was wanted by Punjab Police in more than 10 cases. —Inputs from KAMALDEEP SINGH BRAR in AMRITSAR

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