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12 convicted for 87 Ludhiana bank heist 
Our Legal Correspondent

Ludhiana, November 20
A local court today convicted the former president of the Sikh Students Federation, Daljit Singh Bittu and his close associate Gursharan Singh Gamma for the country's biggest bank robbery of Rs 5.70 crore that took place in 1987. All of them were sentenced to 10 years' imprisonment. The case ended after 25 years. As many as 196 witnesses were cross-examined by the CBI. Of the looted money, Rs 60 lakh were recovered within days of the crime.

The others convicted in the case are: Harjinder Singh of Lalton village in Ludhiana, Balwinder Singh of Tahl village in Jalandhar, Mohan Singh of Katran Kala village of Jalandhar, Saroop Singh of Basrampur village in Jalandhar, Gurjant Singh of Kothe Sher Jang Road, Jagraon, Ludhiana, Avtar Singh of Kurali, Jalandhar, Harbhajan Singh of Sarin Village in Jalandhar, Sewa Singh of Chakran Raju Singh village in Hoshiarpur, Assa Singh of Badala Mahi in Hoshiarpur and Maan Singh of Bhajan Nagar, Ludhiana.

The TADA Court's Special Judge, Sunil Arora, pronouncing the judgment, said: "It has been clearly establised that the dacoity in the bank was committed with the intention to either overawe the government or to strike terror in a section of the people."

Bittu and Gamma's identity had been "clearly established by the prosecution" the judge said. On February 12, 1987, Bittu and his accomplices entered the Millarganj branch of the Punjab National Bank in Ludhiana at around 9.45 am. They were in police uniform.

They left with the bank money without firing a shot and injuring none. They took away old currency notes, not touching the new ones valued at Rs 10 crore, the then chief manager of the bank, SN Malhotra, had said in his complaint to the police. He had said the robbers, claiming to belong to the Khalistan Commando Force, overpowered the guard and threatened the bank employees and customers who were made to sit on the floor. During investigations, Malhotra had identified both Bittu and Gamma.

Key accused

  • Daljit Singh Bittu: A former Sikh Students Federation chief and member of Dr Sohan Singh's Panthic Committee Gursharan Singh
  • Gamma: Bittu's associate. Both Bittu and Gamma worked with Gen Labh Singh of the Khalistan Commando Force

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