The smuggling of narcotics in Punjab has turned the state into a favourite hunting ground for gangsters. While Punjab police chief Suresh Arora has confirmed that more than 57 gangs are currently active there, records show that 92 gang leaders and 432 gangsters are lodged at various jails in the state.
But, it’s not narcotics alone that are being smuggled into the state, as the gangs are also allegedly being supplied with free weapons from Pakistan along with the contraband. Sources say drug smuggling in Punjab is controlled by gangs that get a couple of free pistols or revolvers with a five kg consignment of heroin.
Investigations have revealed that Punjab’s gangsters are a part of a nationwide network of criminals involved in snatchings, looting, kidnapping and murder. These gangsters break out of jail, join other active gangs and change their names.
Sources say that the police department stopped tracking escaped gangsters three years ago. But the Nabha jailbreak seems to have changed it all.
Six inmates, including Khalistan Liberation Force (KLF) terrorist Harminder Mintoo, had escaped from the high-security prison on November 27. After the sensational incident, Punjab DGP Arora had asked all district-level police officers to submit details about the absconding gangsters as well as their track record.
|KLF terrorist Harminder Mintoo, had escaped from the high-security prison on November 27.|
Despite all efforts, the police could only arrest Minto, while five others — Vicky Gounder, Amandeep Dhotian, Gurpreet Sekhon, Neeta Deol and Kashmir Singh — remained at large. Gounder, before the jailbreak, was arrested for killing a gangster named Sukha Kahlwa, and had also admitted to killing former gangster Jaswinder Singh Rocky on April 30, 2016 in Solan.
Police teams have also been sent to Uttrakhand, Rajasthan, Haryana and New Delhi, but in vain. One police team is also camping in Haridwar and Roorkee, after a bag containing Punjab police uniforms, a turban, belt and other items was found from a canal in Roorkee.
Police teams have also been sent to Sri Ganganagar, Rajasthan, besides the NCR, to nab the gangsters. Raids have also been conducted in Kaithal and Jalandhar, but the gangsters continue to evade arrest.
The police picked up some suspects, but failed to get any leads from them. The police also rounded up a woman, the wife of one Sunil Arora of Ludhiana, who had helped the mastermind of the jailbreak incident — Gurvinder Singh alias Painda — with some documents, as well as her servant, from Dehradun.
While Sunil is on the run after the incident, his wife has confessed to the police how her husband had helped prepare fake documents for the passports of the escaped gangsters. Sunil had killed a woman around a decade ago, and was released on bail in 2012.
“The investigations may lead to some more revelations,” a senior police officer said.
The SIT formed by the state government is focusing on Mintoo’s connections with Pakistan’s ISI. Investigations have revealed that Mintoo was in touch with the ISI mentors and was using Skype to make video calls. The police are also verifying phone numbers they recovered from Mintoo’s diary.
Sources say that the police are also keeping an eye on relatives of the escaped gangsters. Gounder and his gang members have not only become a challenge for the Punjab police but have also rattled rival gangs.
Gounder is facing charges in more than six murder and highway robbery cases in Punjab and Haryana. He, along with his gang members, had killed rival gang leader Sukha Kahlwa last January. Sukha was also in Nabha jail.
Interestingly, neither the half-adozen armed cops transporting the gangster to the jail, nor the jail guards posted at the high-security prison opened fire when Gounder and the five others escaped.
These criminals, in contrast, had fired over 100 bullets at the cops.
(Courtesy of Mail Today.)