NIA raids 50 locations in Punjab gangs-terror nexus case

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Monday launched search operations at over 50 locations across the country in connection with cases involving Punjab gangs and their nexus with terror groups.

Sources said the raids are spread across Delhi, Punjab, Haryana and some other states on premises associated with gang members and some terror suspects.

The raids come a day after Punjab DGP Gaurav Yadav, during a press conference on the Sidhu Moosewala murder case, pointed to nexus between Punjab gangs and terror groups operating from Pakistan.

“There is a strong nexus between terror groups and gangsters. The ISI is exploiting this nexus,” Yadav said.

The Punjab Police, along with Delhi Police, arrested three more suspects in the case last week taking the total number of arrests in the case to 23.

Sources said the NIA raids are in connection with two FIRs it took over from Delhi Police in connection with the murder and gangs associated with it. The Delhi Police had earlier invoked the stringent Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) in these cases.

The UAPA was invoked against Moosewala murder accused Lawrence Bishnoi, Goldy Brar and Vikram Brar as well as members of their rival gangs – Davinder Bambiha, Kaushal Chaudhary, Neeraj Bawana, Sunil alias Tillu Tajpuriya, Dilpreet and Sukhpreet alias Budha — besides absconding terrorist Harvinder Rinda. Delhi Police’s Special Cell received information that members of both gangs were procuring illegal weapons from outside the country to execute targeted killings in Delhi and other states.

Two FIRs had been registered under same sections 18 (punishment for conspiracy),18-B (punishment for recruiting of any person or persons for terrorist act), and 20 (punishment for being member of terrorist gang or organisation) of the UAPA, and IPC 120-B (criminal conspiracy) by two different units of the Special Cell.

The first FIR was registered on the basis of inputs received by the Special Cell from sources, informing them about Bishnoi and his associates – Goldy Brar, Vikram Brar, Kala Jathedi, Jasdeep Singh alias Jaggu Bhagwanpuria, Sachin Thapan, Anmol Bishnoi and Lakhbir Singh Landa – running their operations from different jails in India as well as from Canada, Dubai and Pakistan. “They are procuring high-end weapons from outside the country and planning to start targeted killings. Bishnoi is also associated with absconding terrorist Harvinder Rinda,” the FIR stated.

Investigation into the murder of Moosewala also shed light on the extensive crime network of Bishnoi, which extends all the way to Pakistan. The police found that Rinda, learnt to be based across the border, had earlier hired Bishnoi’s men to eliminate a Shiv Sena senior leader, a plan that was shelved due to heavy security, but he later asked them to execute an RPG attack on the state police intelligence headquarters in Mohali on May 10 this year.

The other FIR was registered against Bishnoi’s rival gang and mentions Armenia-based gangster Gaurav Padial alias Lucky Padial, who leads the Davinder Bambiha gang since latter’s death in a police encounter in 2016. It also names Amit Dagar and Kaushal Chaudhary, the alleged conspirators behind the murder of Youth Akali Dal leader Vikramjit Singh Middukhera in Mohali on August 7, 2021; Baba Dhala alias Gurvinder, Bhupi Rana, Neeraj Bawania and Sunil alias Tillu Tajapuriya.

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