Punjab police arrests KLF chief Harminder Mintoo and associate

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Chandigarh – The Punjab Police today achieved another major breakthrough in its on-going focused drive against wanted terrorists with the arrest of the Khalistan Liberation Force chief Harminder Singh Mintoo and his key operative Gurpreet Singh Gopi from Delhi Airport .

Addressing a news conference here, Director General of Police Sumedh Singh Saini said the KLF chief was wanted in 10 terrorism related offences and Gopi had been tasked to execute a conspiracy of targeted assassinations of Hindu leaders last year which was timely fpiled by the police. The motive was to disturb hard-earned peace in this state. The Punjab Police traced and located them in Thailand, in co-ordination with central agencies. On November 7 night, they were brought from Thailand to New Delhi in co-ordination with Thai authorities and arrested at the Delhi Airport by the Punjab Police.

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Saini, a crusader against terrorism, said the arrest of Mintoo and Gurpreet comes close on the heels of arrests of two top terrorists by the police earlier Rattandeep Singh, Chief of the Bhindranwale Tiger Force of Khalistan (BTFK) who was arrested from Gorakhpur in Uttar Pradesh by a police party of the State Special Operations Cell (SSOC) on September 17 last and top Khalistan Tiger Force terrorist Ramandeep Singh alias Goldy, wanted in the Rulda Singh murder case (2009) and the Patiala and Ambala blasts (2010) who was brought from Thailand and arrested yesterday at the Chennai airport.

He disclosed that the counter intelligence wing of the state police had started an exercise of tracking down the wanted terrorists based abroad and in this process, intelligence leads about the whereabouts of Mintoo and Gopi were received, developed and shared with the central agencies. An intelligence- based operation was immediately launched by the Punjab Police. A two-member team including DSP Rajinder Singh Sohal, Rajpura and Inspector Mandeep Singh of the counter intelligence wing were sent to Thailand where it camped for three weeks from September 19 to October 11 for liaison and co-ordination with the Thai authorities and the central agencies. It was established that Mintoo was using a fake Malaysian passport issued in the name of Gurdeep Singh s/o Sohan Singh (passport no. A22967012 issued in IPOH, Malaysia with expiry date 08-09-2015) and a fake Malaysian ID Card No. 610320086949. The operation for tracking and locating Mintoo and Gopi was co-ordinated by Gaurav Yadav, IGP/Counter Intelligence and . Ananaya Gautam, DIG/Counter Intelligence. The police party effecting the arrests was headed by Narinder Bhargav, SSP Jalandhar Rural.

Mintoo s plan was to strengthen the Khalistan Liberation Force and develop independent contacts with the foreign-based supporters and fund raisers and in the process, he toured Belgium, Germany, France and other European countries before reaching South East Asia in May 2014. In South East Asia, Mintoo had travelled to Cambodia, Laos and Burma, besides Thailand where he had established a base.

Saini disclosed the KLF Chief had masterminded attempts to disturb hard-earned peace in Punjab by planning targeted killings of Hindu leaders so as to vitiate the atmosphere in the state and raise communal passions. The Punjab Police foiled the targeted assassinations and busted modules and sleeper cells. A sleeper cell of the KLF was busted on September 15, 2013 with the arrest of three persons (Sukhjinder Singh, Narinderpal Singh and Surinder Singh Chhinda) and recovered one AK-47 rifle with 20 cartridges, one 0.38 bore Smith & Wesson revolver with 05 cartridges and one .45 bore Taurus pistol with 3 cartridges. This sleeper cell was controlled and operated by Gopi and masterminded by Mintoo then based in Pakistan. This cell had been assigned the task of assassinating a prominent Pathankot-based Shiv Sena leader.

Another module masterminded by Mintoo was busted in Amritsar in August 2013 with the arrest of three persons including Karandeep Singh Harry, Jagdeep Singh and Satbir Singh . This module had targeted a prominentAmritsar-based Hindu leader.

Initially in Pakistan, Mintoo worked with the Babbar Khalsa International , but being ambitious and a good organizer, he developed independent contacts with Inter-Services Intelligence of Pakistan and Europe and North America-based terrorist sympathizers and fund raisers and planned to raise his own outfit. Mintoo raised another terrorist module led by Manjeet Singh Jeeta for targeting Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh and Piara Singh Bhaniaranwala. Manjeet Singh was brought to Malaysia and visited Pakistan where he was imparted arms training in 2009. This module was neutralized by the police with the arrest of Manjeet Singh and his associates.

The DGP said differences amongst various terrorist groups came to the fore after the July 28, 2009 attack on Rulda Singh in Patiala when all groups wanted to claim credit. Mintoo decided to revive the Khalistan Liberation Force which was conceptualized in a meeting held in Malaysia in 2009 between Mintoo and his other associates. A 5-member committee was to lead the group with short-term planning of targeting Hindu leaders and ideological targets of the terrorists, including Gurmit Ram Rahim Singh and Piara Singh Bhaniaranwala to gain credibility among the foreign-based financiers and sympathizers of Punjab terrorists and to divert them to the Mintoo-led group. The terrorist group was extensively using the internet for collecting funds, attracting recruits and spreading falsehoods and hatreds.

Saini provided detailed account of the FIRs registered against the arrested KLF chief.

He said Gurpreet Singh Gopi belongs to village Khokhar, district Gurdaspur and after obtaining a Diploma in Electrical Engineering, he left for Dubai in November 2009 where he spent the next more than three years. From Dubai he went to Pakistan as part of religious jathas and got allured and won over by the Punjab terrorists based in Pakistan. He was given arms training in Pakistan and became an associate of Mintoo. He was tasked by Mintoo to execute targeted assassination of a Hindu leader in Pathankot and raised a sleeper cell of the KLF for the purpose. The sleeper cell was busted by the police in September 2013. Gopi remained in contact with Mintoo and they linked up in Thailand this year.