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Ludhiana court blast case: NIA files case against Sikhs For Justice operative detained in Germany

NIA teams have been at the spot of the blast since the first day, collecting evidence and probing the matter parallelly alongside Punjab Police.

Written by Deeptiman Tiwary | New Delhi |
Updated: December 31, 2021 1:55:38 pm
One person had died and six were injured in the blast. (Express File Photo)

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) has registered a case against Sikhs For Justice (SFJ) operative based in Germany, Jaswinder Singh Multani. He is reported to have been detained in Germany by the authorities there.

Multani is suspected by the agencies of having played a role in last week’s Ludhiana court complex blast.

Sources said NIA is yet to take over the Ludhiana court complex blast case officially.

The case against Multani and his associates has been registered under various sections of the Indian Penal Code, including murder, and sections of Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA).

“This case relates to criminal conspiracy hatched by Jaswinder Singh Multani with several other pro-Khalistani elements located abroad for radicalizing, motivating and recruiting youths in Punjab on ground and online through social media platforms to propagate their ideology with the aim to secede Punjab from the Union of India. They have been involved in raising funds to procure arms, ammunition and explosives by using smuggling networks in Punjab to revive terrorism in Punjab. Jaswinder Singh Multani has also been in contact with ISI operatives to carry out terror attack in Mumbai and other parts of India,” NIA said in a statement on Friday.

“Pursuant to registration of the case, requisite actions as per law for expeditious investigation of case have been initiated,” the statement added.

Sources said NIA is likely to get in touch with German authorities for cooperation in arrest and possible extradition of Multani to India. If the need arises, the sources added, a team would also visit Germany to question him.

“Evidence of some Khalistan elements supported by Pakistan but based in certain European countries has emerged. The agency will in due course probe all leads as it has international jurisdiction. Respective countries will be contacted to help in the matter. If need be, teams will also go abroad to probe the matter,” an official from the Union Home Ministry said.

NIA teams have been at the spot of the blast since the first day, collecting evidence and probing the matter parallelly alongside Punjab Police.

A forensic examination of last week’s blast inside a washroom at the Ludhiana district court complex has revealed the use of around 1.5 kg of RDX packed inside a plastic container with a significant amount of shrapnel, indicating that the intention was to cause significant damage and loss of life.

The Indian Express had reported on December 25 that the examination had initially been hampered due to the blasting of a water pipe that had led to the washing away of vital clues. “Experts worked on the spot over the next couple of days and managed to pick up some traces of RDX,” sources said.

“Given that it is a military-grade explosive, the evidence of it having come from across the border and the incident’s links with pro-Khalistan groups supported by Pakistan have become stronger,” a senior officer in the security establishment informed.

The new findings in the case come at a time when security agencies have flagged renewed activity of pro-Khalistan terror groups in Punjab, with regular drops of arms, ammunition, explosives and IEDs being detected from across the border using drones. In the recent past, 43 drone sightings have been reported by the police near the international border at Amritsar and Pathankot.

According to Punjab Police, the lone casualty in last Thursday’s blast, which had injured six others, was the man carrying the explosives. He has been identified as Gagandeep Singh (30), a former policeman who was sacked two years ago after being booked in a case related to drugs smuggling.

Gagandeep’s charred body was identified based on a tattoo and a mobile phone recovered from the spot. “While the phone was completely destroyed, NSG (National Security Guard) personnel were able to recover the memory card and dongle. During forensic examination, it helped reveal vital clues, not only about the identity of the perpetrator but also his links,” the senior officer said.

According to police, Gagandeep was dismissed from service after his arrest in August 2019 and had spent two years in jail before being granted bail in September this year. A Punjab Police officer said the “evidence suggests he (Gagandeep) was not an expert in assembling bombs and committed some mistake, setting off the blast (on the second floor)”.

On Saturday, Punjab’s acting DGP Siddharth Chattopadhyaya had said that the suspect came in contact with pro-Khalistan elements during his time in jail, and that there were indications that the blast was linked to Khalistani and narco-terror elements operating from Pakistan.

Chattopadhyaya added that Gagandeep had got in touch with such elements “most probably while he was in jail” where he “transitioned from narcotics to mafia and terror”.

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