Amritsar grenade attack: One held; Capt says act of terror

CHANDIGARH: Claiming to crack the Amritsar Nirankari Bhavan grenade attack case within 72 hours, Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh on Wednesday said one person has been arrested while the hunt is on for another.

amansharma@tribunemail.com

Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, November 21

Claiming to crack the Amritsar Nirankari Bhavan grenade attack case within 72 hours, Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh on Wednesday said one person has been arrested while the hunt is on for another.

"One Bikramjit Singh has been arrested and search for another accused, Avtar Singh, is on," Amarinder told the media here.

Three people, including a preacher, were killed and more than 20 injured when two motorcycle-borne men threw a grenade on a religious congregation inside Nirankari Bhavan at Adliwal village on the outskirts of Amritsar on Sunday.

Pakistan's ISI very active to cause trouble in Punjab, Amarinder Singh said, adding, "The grenades were dumped from across the fence by Pakistan's ISI. These were made by Pakistan ordnance factory."

Ruling out any communal angle behind the attack, the CM said it was just an act of terror.

Amarinder said Bikramjit Singh alias Bikram (26), a resident of Dhariwal village under Rajasansi police station, was arrested early this morning from near Loharka village.

Bikram, an operative of Khalistan Liberation Force (KLF), has given significant information indicating that the grenade was provided to the assailants by one Happy in Pakistan.

Happy is suspected to be the Pakistan-based KLF chief, Harmeet Singh Happy alias PhD, who had earlier masterminded the conspiracy to carry out the targeted killings in Ludhiana and Jalandhar in 2016-17, in active collaboration with Pakistani establishment and the ISI. 

The CM categorically ruled out any religious motivation behind the attack and described Sunday's attack on Nirankari Bhavan as yet another attempt by Pakistan's ISI and Pak establishment to carry out terrorist actions in Punjab to disturb the peace in the state. 

It was in ISI's interest to keep the border disturbed to ensure internal peace in Pakistan, said Amarinder Singh.

His government was committed to ensuring that nobody was allowed to disturb the state's hard-earned peace and harmony, he asserted.

The CM said preliminary investigations and CCTV footage of the incident had led to the arrest of Bikram, who has identified his accomplice as Avtar Singh Khalsa (32), a resident of Chak Mishri Khan village, Lopoke, Amritsar.

Giving further details, DGP Suresh Arora said Bikram was riding a motorbike (PB18 M-7032) at the time of his arrest. Bikram's black Bajaj Pulsar motorcycle (PB02 BF-9488), which he has used in the attack, has also been recovered.

Bikramjit Singh revealed that Avtar Singh called him up late on the night of November 3 and asked him to be ready for an assignment the next morning. Around 4.30 am that day, Avtar reached Bikram's house and both set off on the latter's Bajaj Pulsar motorcycle to retrieve the hand grenade from an orchard about a km on Majitha-Hariyan link road. They retrieved the HE 84 hand grenade, which had been buried in a half-feet deep pit under a tree.

According to Bikram's initial questioning, the recce of Nirankari Bhavan was carried out on November 13 morning when no one was present on the premises. During the recce, the two conspirators especially checked out the locations of CCTV cameras enroute, the layout plan of the Bhavan and the distance from the main gate on the boundary wall of the Bhavan to the building.

Bikramjit has further said as decided on November 16, Bikram reached the house of Avtar Singh at about 9 am, where they removed the number plate of the motorcycle. They started for Adliwal village at about 9.30 am and covered their faces on the way. They waited in the area for the crowd to congregate at Satsang Bhavan. Both of them were armed with pistols at that time.

Bikram has further revealed that while Avtar successfully slinked into the Satsang Bhavan complex through the open gate, along with the sangat which had just reached there, he himself managed to subdue and take control, at gunpoint, of the two sewadars who had been deployed at the 2 gate-posts.

After hurling the grenade, both of them fled on Bikram's mobike and reached Avtar's village around 12 noon, where Avtar took back the pistol from Bikram. After changing his clothes and appearance, Bikram drove back to his village on his motorcycle.

According to Bikramjit, Avtar Singh was in touch with one Happy in Pakistan, who had got the hand grenade dumped near the orchard near Majitha through some of his other associate. Bikram has revealed that the geolocation details as well as pictures of the dump location were sent to Avtar on his mobile to facilitate the retrieval of the hand grenade.

Harmeet Singh Happy alias PhD had earlier come to notice for supply of a hand-grenade (Arges Type HG-84) of the same specifications to Shabnamdeep Singh, of  Samana, a self-styled chief of Khalistan Gaddar Force (KGF), who was arrested by Punjab Police on October 31, 2018.

It has been learnt that HG 84 hand grenade is produced by Arges of Austria, and also manufactured in Pakistan Ordnance Factories (POF) as the "84-P2A1". HG 84 is a destructive type of grenade, which causes fragmentation after the explosion and has effective range of 30 metre radius. These are mainly used to attack and kill a gathering of persons. Such grenades have been used in J&K in the past.

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