Mohali: As per media reports Rs 40 lakh had given to shooters for the targeted killings of at least eight religio-political leaders in Punjab over the past two years through NRI route.
Investigators claim to have found that a Khalistani separatist module behind the targeted killings used local handlers to pay more than Rs 40 lakh to the two men, Hardeep Singh alias Shera and Ramandeep Singh alias Canadian, who allegedly carried out the murders.
According to English daily Hindustan Times (HT) “on the condition of anonymity, officers in the Punjab police team assisting the National Investigating Agency (NIA) said the killers used to get money in parts, between Rs 50,000 and 2 lakh. However, the NIA is yet to reach the conclusion if the persons involved in supplying the money were aware of the crimes.”
“It’s a general practice that when NRIs visit India, other NRis from their adopted country hand over money and other things to give to relatives or friends in India.
The planners of the killings were so smart that they, instead of using direct transfer to bank accounts or facilities such as Western Union, paid to killers through such NRIs. We are trying to reach the NRIs,” said an officer involved in the quizzing but not authorised to talk to the media.
“The handlers backed by Khalistan Liberation Force (KLF) used to share the address (of payer) with the duo through a messaging app named ‘Signal’,” said another senior officer privy to the investigation. In one such instance, Shera collected Rs 1 lakh from a person outside the bus stand in Jalandhar, said the officers. .
“They were trained so shrewdly that they would never share each other’s real identities or talk about anything other than the plan,” said he.
A probe officer further said the NIA has recovered clothes worn by the two men when they carried out the crimes. “They used to change clothes after the murder and would travel to different locations by buses.”
Seven attacks, eight murders
Here are the targeted killings in Punjab over the last two years that are being probed by the NIA and police. The list below is in reverse timeline, with the latest killing first.
Oct 17, 2017: Ludhiana-based RSS leader Ravinder Gosain (60) shot dead outside his house in Gagandeep Colony of Jodhewal area by two bike-borne men
June 16: Pastor Sultan Masih (50) shot dead in Ludhiana by two bike-borne assailants outside a church in Peeru Banda Mohalla of Salem Tabri
Feb 25: Dera Sacha Sauda followers, Satpal Sharma (70) and his son Ramesh (40), shot dead at Jagera village on the Ludhiana-Malerkotla road, again by biker duo
Jan 14: District president of Shri Hindu Takht, Amit Sharma (35), shot dead outside Durga Mata Temple near Jagraon Bridge
Aug 6, 2016: RSS leader Brig Jagdish Gagneja (retd) shot in Jalandhar; succumbs to injuries at Dayanand Medical College and Hospital in Ludhiana
Apr 23: Two motorcycle-borne assailants gun down president of Shiv Sena labour wing for Punjab, Durga Prasad Gupta (28), at Lalhedi Chowk in Khanna.
April 3: Chand Kaur, wife of former head of Namdhari sect Jagjit Singh, shot dead by two unidentified bike-borne assailants at the Bhaini Sahib complex of the sect, 30 km from Ludhiana