A DAY after he escaped from the high-security Nabha jail in Patiala along with five others, Khalistan Liberation Force (KLF) chief Harminder Singh Mintoo was arrested by a Delhi Police Special Cell team at the Hazrat Nizamuddin railway station on Monday.
Delhi Police claimed that Mintoo was nabbed after a member of its Special Cell team, who had a photo of the militant on his phone, spotted him outside the ticket counter on Monday morning. Police also claimed that their suspicions were aroused by Mintoo’s “self-conscious” behaviour and badly trimmed beard.
Police claimed that they recovered a semi-automatic pistol and six cartridges from Mintoo, who is being interrogated at the Special Cell station after a local court remanded him in police custody for seven days.
Special Commissioner of Police (Special Cell) Arvind Deep said that the arrest followed a tip-off from police in Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh that Mintoo may have entered the capital.
Hours after Mintoo’s arrest, Uttar Pradesh Police claimed that Palwinder Singh Pinda, one of the 14 men who had stormed Nabha jail, had disclosed during interrogation that the jailbreak had been planned over the last month, with one of them updating the inmates over a mobile phone. Pinda had been arrested in Shamli Sunday night.
In Delhi, police claimed that Mintoo disclosed during interrogation that he reached Delhi overnight and brought a train ticket to Panvel, near Mumbai. Police claimed that Mintoo disclosed during interrogation that he hoped to reach Goa from Panvel and fly out later to Malaysia and onward to Germany.
Mintoo is said to be linked to Pakistan’s ISI, and had been arrested in 2014 by Punjab Police from Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport on his return from Thailand. He faces charges in a number of cases, including the attack on Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh in 2008.
Delhi Police claimed that Mintoo said during interrogation that while in Nabha jail he had been in touch over the phone with another suspected KLF militant, Harmeet Singh alias Happy, in Lahore.
A case under sections 353 and 186 of the Indian Penal Code, 25 and 27 of the Arms Act and 20 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act were registered against Mintoo.
The Indian Express had reported on Monday that Mintoo and another inmate, Kashmir Singh, accused in the shooting of a Shiv Sena leader, decided to join the group of four inmates, who the armed gunmen had initially intended to free, after coming to know of the escape plan.
Mintoo and Singh escaped along with Vicky Gounder and other members of his gang, Gurpreet Sekhon, Amandeep Dhotian and Kulpreet Singh aka Neeta Deol, in four vehicles.
UP Police claimed that Pinda confessed during interrogation that he and another member of Gounder’s gang, Prema, had procured the weapons and vehicles used in the jailbreak.
Dr Ajay Pal Sharma, SP, Shamli, said that Pinda was produced before a local court Monday to face charges under the Arms Act and for carrying a fake Aadhar card and a driving licence.
“Pinda has provided details of eight of those involved in the jailbreak. He told us that they were strictly instructed to avoid killing anyone during the jailbreak,” said Sharma.
“Pinda has revealed that Prema used to regularly brief his associates inside the jail on a mobile phone. They had initially planned to free four associates, including Gounder and Sekhon. But Sekhon told them that Mintoo should be freed, too. The police uniforms used in the jailbreak were arranged by Prema,” said Sharma.
Apart from Prema of Jalandhar, Sharma said, some of the others involved in the jailbreak have been identified as Harry and Gopi of Batala; Baba, Mani and Bhikar of Mudaki; Khan of Mangewal; Channa of Hoshiarpur; Sukha and Gopi Koda of Khadoor Sahib; and, another gangster named Baba.