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Delhi blasts: Babbar Khalsa chief Hawara held
Tribune News Service & PTI

New Delhi, June 8
The Delhi Police today arrested Jagtar Singh Hawara, chief of the Babbar Khalsa International in India and an accused in the assassination of former Punjab Chief Minister Beant Singh, along with two other militants in connection with the May 22 twin blasts in cinema halls here.

The police, which recovered 10.35 kg of RDX, four pistols, 207 cartridges, a hand grenade, timers and detonators from their possession, said the arrested militants were plotting to kill some politicians and bureaucrats.

Hawara, who along with two others had escaped from Chandigarh’s Burail jail in January last year and carried a reward of Rs 5 lakh, was nabbed this morning in a north-west Delhi area.

Jaspal Singh, alias Raja, and Vikas Sehgal, accused in the cinema blasts, were also arrested along with Hawara, Delhi Police Commissioner K.K. Paul told reporters here.

The three had come from Punjab to apparently collect money from a Hawala operator on their way to Nepal, he said adding “Hawara is a big catch, one of the biggest in the recent history of the Delhi Police.”

Hawara was allegedly instrumental in the assassination of Beant Singh outside the Punjab Secretariat in Chandigarh in August, 1995, by a suicide bomber. He was arrested in 1996 and was lodged in the Burail jail.

Jaspal is the main accused in the blasts in Liberty and Satyam cinema halls last month in which one person was killed and over 50 others were injured.

Two persons, Balvinder Singh and Jagannath, were arrested last week in connection with the blasts.

Asked whether Hawara was directly linked to the twin blasts, the Commissioner said “it is too early to say. He was lying dormant for some time but it seems he was masterminding operations and channelising funds. He had been instructed not to expose himself and further details can be got only after his interrogation.”

Hawara had been lying low since his escape and was motivating youths, especially those with criminal background, to indulge in extremist activities, Mr Paul said.

The interrogation of those arrested had revealed that Babbar Khalsa was trying to revive militancy in Punjab, the police said.

After the arrest of Balvinder and Jagannath, investigators got information that Jaspal and Vikas were trying to contact Hawara.

When this information was developed, it emerged that the three had met and were coming to Delhi this morning.

“Initially, they were to come last night but they reached this morning and were intercepted at around 6.15 am near Narela Industrial Area by a team of Crime Branch officials,” the Commissioner said adding they were all nabbed after a brief exchange of fire.

The militants, allegedly responsible for the cinema hall blasts, were in contact with Wadhawa Singh Babbar, chief of Babbar Khalsa International who is presently in Pakistan, and his son-in-law Satbir Singh who is in Germany.

Jaspal and Balvinder had travelled to Bangkok last month and met one Shahid whose identity was yet to be established.

Mr Paul said money for the operations of Babbar Khalsa apparently came through hawala channels and it would be investigated whether banking norms were flouted in the process.

Hawara is a resident of Fatehgarh Sahib district and Jaspal hailed from Hoshiarpur in Punjab.

Meanwhile, a Delhi court remanded the three accused in police custody till June 20.

Producing the accused before the Duty Magistrate after the normal court hours, the police had sought a 14-day remand for custodial interrogation. The police submitted before the court that questioning of the accused was necessary for making certain recoveries in connection with the case.

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