A Hong Kong Court on Tuesday ruled in favour of the extradition of fugitive Ramanjit Singh alias Romi, the key conspirator in the November 2016 Nabha jail break case. Romi is also wanted by the Punjab Police in sevral other cases for his alleged involvement in terror activities, gun running and drug trade.
Citing ruling of Magistrate Pang Leung-ting of the Eastern Court in favour of the Indian government, Hong Kong daily, the South China Morning Post, reported Tuesday that “the 30-year-old can be removed from Hong Kong in 15 days at the earliest, counting from the date of court ruling”.
However, the newspaper report also quoted Romi’s legal representatives who said Romi was “prepared to exhaust all means to challenge his return to India, having also engaged a separate team of lawyers led by Hectar Pun Hei SC to lodge a non-refoulement claim with the Immigration Department in June, on the grounds that he was allegedly tortured in his home country.”
As per the report of South China Morning Post, Magistrate Pang said: “Singh could also apply for a writ of habeas corpus from the High Court and he would not be removed from the city so long as there are outstanding proceedings.”
An official spokesperson of Punjab government in an email sent late on Tuesday evening said, “The fugitive, a big fish in drug trade, was wanted in several sensational heinous crime cases, such as criminal conspiracy in maximum security Nabha jail break on November 27, 2016. He was arrested in June 2016 in a case registered in 2016 at police station Kotwali Nabha following recovery of weapons and fake credits cards with skimmed data of dormant accounts of different banks. He got bail in August 2016 and fled to Hong Kong after violating bail order conditions.”
“A cousin of hardcore criminal Ramanjit alias Rami Mashana, who is convicted in several murder cases, Romi developed links with many seasoned criminals and terrorists in the maximum security jail in Nabha where he was lodged following his arrest. A resident of Bangi Ruldu village in Bathinda district Romi hatched the conspiracy to help six hardcore criminals, including two terrorists, escape the Nabha jail,” said the spokesperson.
In the audacious attack, on November 27, 2016, sixteen criminals had launched an attack on the jail and opened indiscriminate fire. They had managed to engineer the escape of six most wanted criminals, including Harjinder Singh alias Vicky Gounder, Neeta Deol, Gurpreet Sekhon, Aman Dhotian and two terrorists — Harminder Mintoo and Kashmir Singh Galwaddi.
During the course of the investigation, 32 accused were arrested by the police in various operations. The extradition/surrender proceedings against Ramanjit alias Romi were initiated in 2018, when he was arrested in Hong Kong in connection with a robbery in Choi Hung Estate, Kowloon. Punjab Police had learnt about this development from the Interpol.
Underlining the urgency for Romi’s extradition, the Punjab Police had said that during the course of the investigation and interrogation of other arrested persons, including then KLF chief Mintoo (who died due to cardiac arrest in Patiala jail), they had found that Romi was the main conspirator and facilitator, who coordinated the attack on the maximum security Nabha jail by providing financial and logistical support to the escapees after the jail break.
The police further said that Romi was still absconding and living in Hong Kong and “indulging in criminal activities by coordinating and facilitating the commission of crime in India and was a perceptible threat to national security, and therefore needed to be apprehended urgently”.
Punjab Police investigators say that Romi was also a key conspirator in the targeted killings in the state and was also “a known facilitator for several of Punjab’s notorious gangsters, including slain Vicky Gounder, and ISI-backed Pakistani terrorists”.
Investigations have also revealed that Romi’s involvement in cases of targeted sectarian killings in Punjab, and he was also involved in drugs and weapons smuggling.
They added that Romi was acting as a “communication hub” and a link between Punjab gangsters and Pak-based terrorists, and was coordinating their activities through WhatsApp, VoIP platforms and social media.
Linking him to targeted killings, Punjab Police investigators maintain that Romi was also in touch with UK national Jagtar Singh Johal aka Jaggi, one of the alleged key conspirators in the targeted killings of Hindu and Shiv Sena leaders, including that of Brigadier Jagdish Gagneja (retd), vice president of Punjab RSS unit, in 2016.
The two were in touch, through Harmeet Singh aka PHD, a known KLF terrorist based in Pakistan, and had spoken to each other at least thrice between May and July 2017, police had said last year, citing investigations.
According to police, Romi was “also acting as mediator to strike a deal between gangster Dharminder Gugni (lodged in Nabha jail and accused of arranging weapons for targeted killings) and (slain gangster) Vicky Gounder, who were at loggerheads because of gang rivalries”.
As per Punjab Police investigators, “Besides the Nabha Jail break and the targeted killigs, Romi was also wanted for illegal transference of funds for criminal and terror activities, abetting and facilitating terrorists, kidnapping and smuggling of weapons. He is also suspected to be a major conduit for drugs smuggling through his Pak-based contacts.”
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