Today: Jun 17, 2024

Punjab DGP says Ludhiana blast accused had Khalistani links, role of Pak-based entities suspected

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Chandigarh:  Punjab DGP Siddharth Chattopadhyaya on Saturday said that the former state police head constable who was killed in the Ludhiana district court blast had links with Khalistani elements and terror outfits, and some Pakistan-based entities could be behind the incident.

Addressing the media here, the director general of police said Gagandeep Singh, who was dismissed from service in 2019, had gone to the washroom to assemble the bomb and plant it somewhere. He was alone in the washroom when the bomb went off.

Singh was posted as a ‘munshi’ at a police station in Khanna, his native city, and was sacked in connection with a drugs-related case, Chattopadhyaya.

He was arrested by the anti-drug special task force for carrying 385 grams of heroin and was booked under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act in 2019. He spent two years in jail and was currently out on bail. The next hearing in the case was scheduled for December 24, a day after the blast, the officer said.

Singh was killed and six others were injured in the blast that occurred in the court complex on Thursday. The Punjab government had declared a high alert in the state after the incident.

During his time in jail, Singh probably came in contact with some bad elements, the police said.

Citing the initial probe, Chattopadhyaya said Singh had links with Khalistani elements, both within Punjab and abroad, terror outfits, mafia groups as well as narcotic smugglers.

He said further details will be disclosed later.

To a question about Pakistan’s involvement in the blast, the DGP said the police have “full suspicion” but he could not say so conclusively.

The leads gathered so far indicate that someone sitting and operating in Pakistan could be behind it, he added.

Asked if Pakistan-based pro-Khalistani organisations could have had a role in the blast, Chattopadhyaya said there were indications of links to Khalistani elements and narco-terrorism.

Singh was facing a narcotics case and his link with the mafia was also established, he said.

The DGP said the explosive used in the blast was the kind that only terrorists have and it might have come from across the border.

He said the Ludhiana court blast was the biggest example of the “dangerous cocktail” of terrorism, organised crime, mafia and narcotics.

Asked if RDX was used in the bomb, Chattopadhyaya said the material has been sent for examination and the type of explosive used will be known after the report comes.

“I cannot say conclusively what the (explosive) material was,” he said, adding that it was unlikely to be RDX.

Replying to another question, the DGP said Singh was “technically sound” when he was serving in the police.

“He was very good with computers and technical material,” he said.

Ruling out the human bomb angle, Chattopadhyaya said, “It appears that he went there (washroom) to connect some wires and… to place it (the bomb) somewhere. It was not the concept of a human bomb.”

“The posture in which he was sitting (showed that) he did not go to the washroom to use it. He was using the washroom to assemble it (the bomb). He was alone there,” the officer said.

The DGP praised the police and other investigation agencies for identifying the man within 24 hours of the incident.

According to police sources, Singh’s mobile SIM is believed to have helped identify him.