Chandigarh, Sept 22: With the arrest of four people, the Punjab Police on Sunday claimed to have busted a terror module of the Khalistan Zindabad Force (KZF), backed by a group based in Pakistan and Germany.
Police said the terror group was conspiring to unleash a series of strikes in Punjab and adjoining states.
A huge cache of arms, including five AK-47 rifles, pistols, satellite phones and hand grenades, was seized from them.
Given the international links and ramifications of the conspiracy, Chief Minister Amarinder Singh has decided to hand over further investigation to the National Investigation Agency (NIA), an official spokesman said.
Punjab DGP Dinkar Gupta said the four members of the module were arrested from the outskirts of Chohla Sahib village in Tarn Taran district of Punjab on Sunday.
"They were using a white coloured Maruti Swift car bearing a Punjab registration number," Gupta said.
With the initial investigation revealing the use of drones to deliver weapons and communication hardware across the border, the Chief Minister has urged the Union government to direct the Indian Air Force (IAF) and the Border Security Force (BSF) to launch necessary counter-measures.
According to Dinkar Gupta, the weapons were suspected to have been delivered recently from across the border by the ISI, state-sponsored jihadi and pro-Khalistani terrorist outfits working under its command.
"The large-scale infiltration appeared to have been aimed at scaling terrorism and militancy in Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab and the Indian hinterland in the wake of the recent developments in the Valley," Gupta said in a statement.
Gupta said the operation was based on inputs gathered from sources that activists of the banned KZF had planned to carry out multiple terrorist strikes in J-K, Punjab and other states. Dinkar Gupta said the module was backed by Pakistan-based chief of the KZF, Ranjeet Singh, alias Neeta; and his Germany-based associate Gurmeet Singh, alias Bagga, alias Doctor, who had re-organised their group to revive terrorism in Punjab.
With the help of local sleeper cells, they had spotted, radicalised and recruited local members besides arranging funds and sophisticated weapons from across the border for operationalising the local module members, he said.
Those arrested have been identified as Balwant Singh, alias Baba, alias Nihang; Akashdeep Singh, alias Akash Randhawa; Harbhajan Singh and Balbir Singh.
Both Akashdeep and Balwant Singh had a criminal past with multiple criminal cases against them, Gupta said.
Preliminary investigations have revealed that Maan Singh, currently lodged in a Amritsar jail under the Arms Act and Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), at the behest of his handler Gurmeet Singh, alias Bagga, had recruited Akashdeep Singh, when they were lodged together in the jail.
Recipient of the consignment, Baba Balwant Singh is a member of the Babbar Khalsa International (BKI) and was earlier arrested in a UAPA and Arms Act case by the Mukandpur police station (SBS Nagar).
He is presently out on bail and facing a trial in that case.
An FIR has been registered at the police station, state special operation cell (SSOC), Amritsar, under the UAPA, Arms Act, Explosive Substances Act, Prisons Act and various relevant sections of the IPC. Five AK-47 rifles, 16 magazines and 472 rounds of ammunition, four Chinese-made 30 bore pistols, along with eight magazines and 72 rounds of ammunition; nine hand grenades, five satellite phones with their ancillary equipment, two mobile phones, two wireless sets and fake currency with the face value of Rs 10 lakh were recovered from them, the DGP said.