The Punjab Police have arrested the main assailant in the targeted killings, including the sensational Brigadier Gagneja case, taking the total number of suspects to five in the six cases involving the murder of seven RSS, Shiv Sena and Dera Sauda leaders. The police have also traced the handlers of the suspects, who were part of a larger conspiracy designed and perpetrated by Pakistan’s ISI, to UK, Italy and Canada, DGP Suresh Arora told media persons here on Friday, adding that the role of the Khalistani Liberation Force (KLF) in the conspiracy was also being investigated. Though it was too early to share details since the investigations were still at a preliminary stage, funding of the module from foreign sources had been confirmed, the DGP revealed.The DGP, who was accompanied by DGP Intelligence, Dinkar Gupta, and other senior officers, identified the fifth accused as Hardeep Singh @ Shera s/o Daljit Singh r/o village Majri Kihnewali, PO Amloh (Fategharh Sahib), who reportedly worked in cohorts with Ramandeep Singh @ Canadian @ Billa @ Chooti Bhain s/o Gurdev Singh, r/o Chuharwal, PS Meharban (Ludhiana) to execute the murders, using a motorcycle in each case.
While Ramandeep was nabbed on Wednesday, Hardeep Singh was arrested from Bajwa Gymasium in Fatehgarh Sahib town this morning. Hardeep had fled the country after some of the killings, thus making it difficult for the investigative agencies to connect him with the murders, said the DGP, adding that he had fled to Italy on August 12, 2016, after killing Brigadier Gagneja on the 6th of the month. The Brigadier Gagneja killing, which had massive sparked outrage, was handed over to the CBI but even the central agency could not trace the killers as they left behind no clue. The three others arrested earlier had been identified as Jimmy Singh (a Jammu resident who recently returned to India from UK after spending many years there, and was picked up on Nov 1 from Delhi’s IGI airport), Jagtar Singh Johal alias Jaggi (a UK national who got married just last month and was apprehended in Jalandhar), Dharmender @ Guggni (a gangster from Meharban in Ludhiana who was supplying weapons to the killers). With these arrests, apart from the killing of seven leaders, the police have also unraveled the mystery behind the two attacks on RSS Shakhas and firing on Amit Arora, a Ludhiana based Hindu leader. Five incidents of targeted killings took place between April 2016 and February 2017, while two took place in July and October 2017. The conspiracy to target minority leaders to create communal strife and destabilize the state had been hatched by some militant operatives, based in foreign countries including Pakistan, UK, Italy, Canada and some European countries.
The DGP said that they have vital clues about the identities of these operatives but disclosing it at this moment could hamper the ongoing investigations.Three motorcycles and five weapons used in the killings have been recovered, including the 9mm Pistol, 32 bore Pistol and 30 bore Pistol, which were used in the commission of most of the crimes. The details of weapons recovered are (i) 9mm Pistol, (ii) 30 bore Pistol, (iii) 32 bore Pistol, (iv) 315 bore (single shot country made Pistol), (v) Air Pistol (Swiss made), and 60 cartridges. The air pistols were used by the suspects for training purposes, investigations have revealed. The motorcycle used in Ganeja killing was thrown in Sirhind canal after the canal and has been recovered today following the arrest of Hardeep. Preliminary investigations indicate that the international conspiracy to trigger violence and mayhem in Punjab was hatched outside the Indian borders.Since the international conspiracy was very well organised and executed by trained operatives, and the perpetrators managed to hide their footprints quite well, even Central agencies such as CBI could not crack the cases, thus instilling a great sense of insecurity among the minority community in particular.
The modus operandi of the accused was to select RSS leaders (soft targets) for causing communal disharmony in Punjab. They performed proper recce before hitting the target. In case of Brig. Gagneja, the accused went to Jalandhar three times before succeeding in their design on the fourth day. They always wore masks to hide their identity from CCTV cameras and would destroy their clothes after ever killing. The DGP said the police are now on track of the foreign handlers of the module, which was controlled through operatives located in UK, Canada and Italy and managed through the social media. It was the social media which was used to contact and brainwash potential radicals, he said, adding that both the shooters, Hardeep and Ramandeep, were reportedly contacted on Facebook.The two worked in close coordination despite having little information about each other. They were controlled through a Mobile App SIGNAL and were told to find out soft targets of RSS Cadre. In the case of Brig. Gagneja and the Pastor murder, the targets were given by the agencies outside Punjab, while in other cases, the targets were selected and executed by the accused, interrogation of the suspects has revealed.The DGP lauded the team work shown by top police and intelligence officials of the state to crack the cases.