New Delhi: The two men arrested in Delhi Saturday, allegedly members of the Sikh militant organisation Babbar Khalsa International (BKI), are believed to have been conspiring to commit targeted killings in northern India on directions of Khalistani leaders sponsored by Pakistan’s intelligence agency.
The Delhi Police Special Cell, which nabbed the men in northwest Delhi after a gunfight, had recovered seven pistols, 45 live cartridges and two Android phones containing videos and photos related to the Khalistani movement, police said in a statement Monday.
The men were identified as 41-year-old Bhupinder Singh alias Dilawar Singh and 39-year-old Kulwant Singh, both hailing from Ludhiana. They had allegedly come to Delhi to receive a huge cache of arms and ammunition to execute the conspiracy.
Police received a tip-off about the activities of the two men, leading to their arrest.
“Acting on this input, a trap was laid near the underpass on Burari to Majlis Park road. The accused were identified and overpowered by the team members after a brief exchange of fire,” Deputy Commissioner of Police, Special Cell, Sanjeev Kumar Yadav said.
‘Came in touch with Khalistani extremists on Facebook’
Bhupinder Singh was born in Punjab but travelled to several countries for labour work, including Dubai in 2005 and later Muscat in 2009. He returned to India in 2011.
In 2016, he ended up in Saudi Arabia looking for a job. It was at this time he came in contact with members of the Khalistan movement on Facebook and was influenced by them, the police statement said.
Through the social media platform, Bhupinder also came in contact with Harbinder Singh, Amritpal Kaur, Randeep Singh and Jarnail Singh, and started working with them. The three men were arrested by Punjab Police in 2017 for planning terror activities.
All of four of them became members of the BKI, which was labelled a terror group and banned by India under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Act [UAPA], 2004. The group was allegedly being financed by Khalistan sympathisers in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and the UK.
“They had formed a group, ‘Khalistan Zindabad’, and were planning to raise a new militant outfit, ‘Jatha Veer Khalsa’, on the anniversary of Operation Bluestar,” a senior Delhi Police officer told ThePrint. “They planned to kill senior leaders who were involved in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots cases. A case was registered against them in Mohali, Punjab.”
At the time of the arrest, Bhupinder was in Abu Dhabi. So, a Red Corner Notice was issued against him through Interpol. He was deported to India in 2019 and arrested. He remained in Nabha Security jail from January 2019 to July 2019, when he was released on bail.
Engineers of Satluj Yamuna Link on radar
During his interrogation by Delhi Police, Bhupinder said he had identified three people as potential targets for killing.
“He has strong objection against the SYL (Satluj Yamuna Link) Canal and is ready to take the life of engineers working on the project. Recently, he, along with his associate and co-accused Kulwant Singh, had hoisted a saffron flag (with the BKI insignia) on a water tank and office of Tehsil in Raikot,” the senior officer said.
The SYL canal is a project demanded by Haryana — a state carved out of Punjab in 1966 — to get what it sees as its share of water from rivers in Punjab.
Bhupinder told police that he had “strong feeling for the kaum (community) and enmity towards person speaking against Sikh gurus and the religion”.
Links with all Khalistani factions
According to the Delhi Police, Bhupinder has relations with all factions of Khalistan extremists.
“Initially, when in Saudi Arabia, he came in contact with Wadhawa Singh Babbar of BKI and was arrested by Punjab Police under UAPA after being deported to India. After his release from jail, he came in contact with Dhanna Singh of KLF (Khalistan Liberation Force) based in the UK and Jagdish Bhoora of KZF (Khalistan Zindabad Force) who is based in Belgium,” the senior officer said.
According to police, it was Bhoora who asked Bhupinder to identify the targets and said he would provide weapons.
“Jagdish Bhoora gave him contact with a person who was to deliver his weapon to Delhi. Payment for the cache of arms was also made by Jagdish Bhoora,” the officer said.
“He further said that his original name is Bhupinder Singh, and inspired by Dilawar Singh Babbar who assassinated Beant Singh, adopted the alias Dilawar Singh,” the officer also said.
The officer further added that Bhupinder had shared “high radical contents” related to Khalistan and the SYL issue on Facebook, and is also a member of two pro-Pakistan related public groups — Pakistan Zindabad Khalistan Zindabad and Defenders of Pakistan.
“Letters of Babbar Khalsa International remembering and praising Dilawar Singh Babbar have also been recovered from his mobile phone,” the officer said.
‘Kulwant in touch with ISI operatives on WhatsApp’
According to police, Kulwant Singh was born in 1981 in the village Binjal in Raikot, Ludhiana. He met with Bhupinder about six years ago in Raikot and became friends with him.
Though Bhupinder went to Saudi Arabia, the two remained in contact through phone and social media.
Police said that after Bhupinder was released from jail in 2019, the two men met and discussed a plan to eliminate any person making derogatory remarks against Sikhs.
“Kulwant was also asked to become a member of the Pakistani groups, which he did. He started contact with Khalistan supporters in Pakistan. He joined Pakistan Zindabad Khalistan Zindabad group on Facebook, which is operated by Pervez Akhtar from Pakistan,” the officer said.
Kulwant has been in contact with certain people in Pakistan on WhatsApp, whose identity and links to the spy agency Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) is being verified, the senior Delhi Police officer told ThePrint.
“Bhupinder told him that he will manage weapons for their plan. Further efforts are being made to identify other members of their network, including those based across the border and in foreign countries,” the officer said.