March 3, 2020 6:57:42 pm
PUNJAB POLICE on Monday said that after a 1,500 km chase spanning 18 hours and 56 minutes across four states, they had arrested the prime accused in the murder cases of former Akali sarpanch Gurdeep Singh and Pandori Waraich resident Mandeep Singh.
While Harnam Bhullar of Umarpura had claimed responsibility for killing Gurdeep Singh, Harwinder Sandhu of Pandori Waraich had claimed to have killed Mandeep, both on social media.
The operation was coordinated by the Organised Crime Control Unit of Punjab, the intelligence wing of Punjab Police and police teams from Amritsar (Rural) and Mohali in collaboration with police officers of Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan.
Gurdeep Singh was a confidant of Akali MLA and former minister Bikram Singh Majithia, who had been calling the killing a “political murder” and demanding a CBI probe while alleging a gangster-minister nexus, naming gangster Jaggu Bhagwanpuria and Cabinet Minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa, who had refuted the allegations.
Announcing the arrests along with recovery of arms including pistols, rifles and cartridges, two cars, three fake Aadhaar cards, Punjab Director General of Police (DGP) Dinkar Gupta told media that Harman’s mother had contested the 2018 panchayat elections unsucessfully and the murder of Gurdeep Singh was committed over personal enmity.
He attributed Mandeep’s murder to a “personal grudge”.
The DGP said Harman and Harwinder were members of the Chaura Madhra gang operated by Pavittar Singh, presently believed to be living in the United States after having fled from India in 2015.
An investigator said that members of the Chaura Madhra gang and Bhagwanpuria “started off together and remained associated with each other initially, but were operating independently now”.
The ‘breakthrough’: A video call with a girlfriend
DGP said the breakthrough regarding the movement of the accused came when Ranbir Singh alias Lucky, a resident of Teeda village in Mohali district, accidentally shot himself with a countrymade weapon and was admitted in PGIMER, Chandigarh, on February 23.
“Subsequent investigations led to the revelation of the weapon provided by Harman Bhullar and his associate through one Harry Bajwa, a resident of Sector 40, Chandigarh. Harry Bajwa had provided a safe house to the accused in Sector 40, Chandigarh, where the accused have been staying for the last two months. Harry has also been arrested,” said the DGP.
An investigator said Lucky was talking to his girlfriend on a video call when after an argument he shot himself in the abdomen with a countrymade weapon and was admitted to PGI. PGI authorities then informed Chandigarh police, who in turn got in touch with Punjab Police.
The weapon was recovered from Lucky’s uncle Balbir Singh who is among the seven people who have been arrested so far. Lucky, who is undergoing treatment, has also been named an accused.
Further investigation about the source of Lucky’s weapon led Punjab Police to a Sector 40 resident Arwinder Singh alias Harry Bajwa.
The investigator said that when police raided Bajwa’s residence, he was on a phone call with Harman who after learning about the police raid, fled from the safehouse. This, the investigator said, led to an inter-state chase.
The DGP told media that Harman and Harwinder along with another member of the Chaura Madhra gang, Balraj Singh aka Buri, were finally arrested from Sojat in Pali district of Rajasthan on March 1 on the basis of a tip-off provided to Rajasthan Police by their Punjab counterparts, following a chase spanning 18 hours and 56 minutes. “The accused had been changing their locations and creating various fake identities while being on the run,” said the DGP.
The Chaura Madhra gang, the DGP said, “is involved in many cases of extortion, attempt to murder, murder, rioting etc.”
“Harman Bhullar, Balraj Singh aka Buri and Harwinder Sandhu had arranged fake Aadhaar Cards under the names of Mangal Singh, Ram Dev and Mohinder Singh, respectively. Harman Bhullar had also managed to get his fake passport issued in the name of Harman Singh from the Regional Passport Office, Ambala, with a fake address of Pehowa, Kurukshetra, Haryana,” said the DGP.
“Gurdeep Singh, (55), former Sarpanch of village Umarpura, was shot dead by a group of armed assailants led by Harman Bhullar, when he was returning home from a village gurdwara on January 1, 2020. Harwinder Sandhu, a member of Pavittar gang, had also claimed responsibility for the killing of Mandeep Singh, 26, of Pandori Waraich village, Amritsar (Rural), due to personal enmity,” the DGP added.
“The accused were also wanted in the recent attempt to murder case in which they fired gunshots, injuring one Triptpal Singh in November 2019 at Jijayani village in Amritsar (Rural),” said the DGP, adding, “The accused, who had been on the run for the past several months, had flaunted their involvement in these cases on their social media posts.”
According to the DGP, “Harman Bhullar was involved in as many as eight criminal cases while Balraj Singh was wanted in ten criminal cases and Harwinder Sandhu in three criminal cases. Most of these cases are related to serious offences, such as murder, attempt to murder, abduction/kidnapping, rioting, Arms Act etc., said the DGP.
Gupta said the joint operation was led by Bikramjit Singh Brar, DSP OCCU, under the supervision of Vikram Jeet Duggal, SSP Amritsar (Rural), Gurmeet Singh Chauhan, AIG, Intelligence (OCCU) and RN Dhoke, ADGP Internal Security. DGP said police teams were drawn from OCCU, Mohali and Amritsar Rural districts. The operation was monitored by the DGP.
“The chase culminated successfully on March 1, as a result of the perfect inter-state coordination and cooperation between the police forces of the four states,” said Gupta, pointing out that Constable Nasir Mohammad of Uttarakhand Police had travelled all the way from Rudrapur to Rajasthan during the operation.
“…the criminals, who were travelling in an i20 car covered various national highways, toll Plazas, small village roads, etc. They kept moving continuously, criss-crossing various roads in the remote and interiors of different small towns and villages of various districts of Uttarakhand, UP and Rajasthan,” said the DGP, calling it a “filmy” chase.
“It was only in the early hours of Sunday that their movement again came to notice in Rajasthan in coordination with highway authorities and CCTV footage. Chase teams of Punjab Police and the SOG teams of Rajasthan Police were put on high alert. Finally, after one of the longest chases in policing covering a distance of over 1500 km, the trio were apprehended from Sojat with help of Rajasthan Police,” said the DGP.
“The arrest of these three criminals further led to arrests of two of their associates Gurpreet Singh aka Gopi and Gurwinder Singh aka Khalsa. Both of them are also involved in various crimes, such as murder, attempt to murder, arms act, etc,” said the DGP.
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