Nabha jailbreak: Khalistani militant Harminder Singh Mintoo held in Delhi
Khalistan militant leader Harminder Singh Mintoo, who had fled with four others when 10 gunmen stormed a high-security jail in Punjab on Sunday, was arrested in Delhi on Monday, Hindustan Times reported.
Khalistan Liberation Force chief Harminder Singh Mintoo and four others broke out of Nabha Central Jail in Patiala, Punjab, on Sunday.
A little before 9 am, a dozen men disguised as policemen came to the main gate of the Nabha jail with two handcuffed men, claiming they were bringing them back after a court hearing. After gaining entry, they snatched the rifle of a policeman and split into two groups, one heading to the jail corridor, where the six prisoners were waiting.
The assailants fired more than 100 rounds at the guards, according to reports.
The Punjab government had announced Rs 25 lakh as a reward to any person providing information on the absconding prisoners.
Mintoo was arrested by the Punjab Police in 2014 from Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport on his return from Thailand. The insurgent group leader was wanted in a number of terror-related cases, including the 2008 attack on Sirsa-based Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh and recovery of explosives at Halwara air force station in 2010.
As a hunt began across the state on Sunday, the police opened fire at a car near a check-post around 25 km from the prison, killing a woman in what they admitted was a case of “mistaken identity”.
One of the men, Palwinder Singh Pinda, was caught last evening, NDTV reported. He told the police that Mintoo and another prisoner Kashmir Singh were not part of the escape plan plotted by Vicky Gounder, a prisoner accused in several cases of murder and highway robbery.
However, The Indian Express quoted Mintoo’s lawyer Jaspal Singh Manjhpur as saying hat there was no need for his client to escape as he could have been released legally soon.
“The cases against him were very weak and in most of the cases he is described as the main conspirator. He has not been accused of direct involvement in any alleged militant activity,” his lawyer reportedly said.
The Punjab police said he was trying to revive the Khalistan separatist movement and was in touch with Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence officers.
The state’s Parkash Singh Badal government was accused by the opposition of “complicity”. The Congress said there are fears about an attempt to revive terror in the state ahead of the election next year.
Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal’s son and deputy Sukhbir Badal indicated that Pakistan could be behind the jailbreak. Pakistan, he said while visiting the prison, has been “desperate” to revive terror since the September surgical strikes conducted by the army across the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir.