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NIA cracks down on terrorist-smuggler nexus with countrywide raids, foreign connections also unearthed

NIA raids in Haryana

Chandigarh: In a countrywide crackdown to break foreign funded narco-terror nexus, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) is raiding more than 100 locations in six states of Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, UP, Uttarakhand and MP. Sources said fresh leads on the activities of the gangsters and Khalistanis operating from north Indian states as well as abroad prompted the raids.

In Punjab, the NIA is conducting searches at 58 locations in 12 districts on suspicions of links between narco-terrorists and Khalistani groups based out of Canada and Pakistan. According to senior officials, they are targeting Lawrence Bishnoi gang, Davinder Bambiha gang, Jatheri gang, Jaswinder Singh Multani gang and aides of Pakistan based narco- terrorist Harwinder Singh Rinda, who had been pronounced dead by Pakistan recently.

The raided premises include a businessman’s house at Rajinder Nagar in Moga, apart from houses of terrorists and gangsters at Talwandi Bhangeria, Dhurkot and Nidhawala villages of Moga district. Two places in Patiala were also visited by NIA, though they returned after finding that their owners had shifted abroad.

Though NIA is yet to divulge details, highly placed sources revealed that along with Punjab police, the organisation searched three locations in Jalandhar and a house in Chandsar Basti in Bathinda, two places in Muktsar district, three in Ferozepur and two in Amritsar district so far. This includes the residence of Gujant Singh Janta, known to be a notorious criminal and drug trafficker, at Gaggo Mahal village of Amritsar.

Sources added NIA conducted searches at three places in Rupnagar district, including the house of gangster Dilpreet Singh Dhahe, who is in jail and at Kheri Slabatpur village in Chamkaur Sahib and at the house of militant Amarjeet Singh who was killed in a police encounter during militancy. NIA also raided the house of Jagroop Singh of Lodhipur village on the outskirts of Anandpur Sahib, though he is in the UAE now. Punjab police tweeted: “Massive crackdown against gangsters and anti-social elements by state police in a joint operation with NIA. NIA raided 58 locations across the state with support of Punjab police and Punjab Police conduction Cordon and search operations at 143 locations across the state.”

In Haryana, the agency raided multiple locations in Sirsa, Jhajjar, Bahadurgarh and Gurugram. Along with the local police, the agency searched the residence of Gurtej Singh Khalsa, President, Gatka Committee in Karnal and questioned him for over three hours. The NIA also conducted searches at three places in Sonepat district. These were at the residence of notorious gangster Kala Jatheri at Jatheri village and his associates at Pinana and Tihar Khurd villages.

It may be noted that Central agencies and state police forces have been cracking down on organised crime and terrorists hiding and operating from different parts of the country and abroad including Pakistan, Canada, Malaysia, Australia, and the US. NIA has arrested 30 gangsters and their associates over the last seven months after raiding over 200 locations and hideouts in seven states. It has seized 13 properties, frozen 95 bank accounts, and issued 20 lookout circulars against criminals and terrorists.

Three cases were registered by NIA in August 2022 against Canada-based gangster Lakhbir Singh alias Landa, Pakistan-based gangster Harvinder Singh Rinda, and US-based Gurpatwant Singh Pannu, supremo of banned Khalistani terror organisation Sikhs for Justice (SFJ). The cases are under probe along with the two cases registered against gangsters Lawrence Bishnoi, Goldy Brar, and Vikram Brar, as well as their rivals Davinder Bambiha, Kaushal Chaudhary, Neeraj Bawana, now slain Sunil alias Tillu Tajpuriya, Dilpreet, and Sukhpreet alias Budha.

In a charge sheet filed in March this year the NIA said that the network has been established like an ecosystem seen in Mumbai in the 1990s. “A number of criminal gangs active in North India are now being operated from Dubai, and pro-Khalistan organisations are using their networks for executing unlawful activities on the lines similar to that of the underworld in the 1990s. Fugitives, such as Arsh Dala and Gaurav Patial, who are based in foreign countries, are in touch with the pro-Khalistan elements lodged in Indian jails and other countries to carry out targeted killings, extortion and terror acts. It has also come to light that jails have been the place where the crime-terror nexus firmed up,” the NIA charge sheet says.

Also Read: NIA raids 14 hideouts in J&K, Punjab in cyber-terror case linked to Pakistani handlers

(Aayush Goel writes on Punjab and Haryana developments. Views expressed are personal)