‘Mintoo jailbreak kingpin, ISI wants return of Punjab militancy’

New Delhi, Nov 30 (IANS) KLF chief Harminder Singh Mintoo — one of the six prisoners to escape the Nabha jail in Punjab — was the kingpin of the jailbreak plan and was supported by the ISI which wanted to revive militancy in the border state through him, a senior Delhi Police officer said on Wednesday.

The Khalistan Liberation Force (KLF) militant had admitted to being the mastermind of the jailbreak, which he planned after meeting Punjab gangster Gurdeep Singh Sekhon six months ago in Nabha jail, the police officer said on the condition of anonymity.

Shekhon later contacted his aide Vicky to arrange local criminals for the jail attack on any suitable day, he added.

“Mintoo planned to revive the militant organisation and sleeper cells in Punjab with the ISI help. The ISI was aware of the impending jailbreak and wanted to revive militancy in Punjab. They (ISI and KLF) were helping each other in completing the mission,” the senior police officer said.

The ISI wanted to take revenge for the Indian army’s surgical strikes against Pakistan on September 28.

Parminder Singh, a gangster since arrested by Uttar Pradesh Police, was assigned the task of arranging firearms which he did with the help of Satnam Kaur, a daughter of another KLF militant, the police officer said.

Mintoo was arrested from the parking area of Nizamuddin railway station by Delhi Police’s Special Cell on November 28 morning, a day after he escaped from a high security prison in Punjab.

Six criminals, including Mintoo and Kashmir Singh (both terrorists) and gangsters Gurpreet Sekhon, Vicky Gounder, Amandeep Dhotian and Neeta Deol had escaped from the Punjab prison on November 27.

Police said Mintoo told his interrogators that he chatted with his Pakistani handler Harmeet on Skype from the Nabha jail days before the jailbreak.

Harmeet is also a KLF militant, living in the safe house under the protection of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) in Pakistan, police said.

Mintoo conveyed his jailbreak plan to Harmeet and the ISI agents across the border. Mintoo continued to be in touch with ISI agents in Pakistan ahead of the jailbreak, police said.

The ISI also arranged funds for Mintoo through a KLF sympathiser from England through hawala channels and another from Germany who sent money through legal money transfer channel, he said.

“The money was deposited in a bank account of a Punjab-based sweetshop owner and a hawala trader was assigned to hand over the cash to Mintoo on Monday, the day he was arrested. Since Mintoo escaped in the jailbreak, the sweetshop owner could not hand him the cash,” the officer said.

Punjab Police has since arrested the sweetshop owner Tejinder Sharma.

Delhi Police are since conducting raids to arrest Santnam Kaur, apart from raiding a Goa hideout to arrest Mintoo’s aide, the officer said.

(Sanjeev Pal can be contacted at sanjeev.p@ians.in)

–IANS

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