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The Punjab Police have arrested the main accused in cases of targeted killings, including the sensational RSS leader Jagdish Gagneja murder case, taking the total number of suspects arrested to five.
The police have claimed to have traced the handlers of the suspects, who were part of a larger conspiracy designed and perpetrated by Pakistan's ISI, to the UK, Italy and Canada, Punjab Police DGP Suresh Arora told reporters today.
He said the role of the outfit Khalistan Liberation Force (KLF) in the conspiracy was also being investigated.
The DGP said said though it was too early to share details as investigations were still at a preliminary stage, the funding of the module from foreign sources had been confirmed.
The DGP, accompanied by DGP (Intelligence) Dinkar Gupta and other senior officers, identified the arrested man as Hardeep Singh alias Shera, a sharpshooter, who hailed from Majri Kihnewali village, Amloh (Fategharh Sahib).
He worked allegedly in association with Ramandeep Singh alias Canadian of Meharban village (Ludhiana) to execute the murders and used a motorcycle in each case.
While Ramandeep was nabbed on Wednesday, Hardeep Singh alias Shera (22) was arrested from a gymasium in Fatehgarh Sahib town this morning, the DGP said.
The sharpshooter was involved in the killings of Gagneja,Ludhiana RSS leader Ravinder Gosain, Shiv Sena leader Durga Dass Gupta and a pastor Sultan Masih.
Shera used to leave the countryafter every killing. Six days after killing Gagneja IN Jalandhar he had left for Italy. His passport is now in police custody, Arora added.
The case, which had sparked an outrage, was handed over to the CBI later.
"Hardeep fled the country after some of the killings, making it difficult for the investigative agencies to connect him to the killings," the DGP said.
The three others, who were arrested earlier, were identified as Jimmy Singh, a resident of Jammu who recently returned to India after spending many years in the UK, Jagtar Singh Johal alias Jaggi, a UK national who recently got married, and Dharmender alias Guggni, a gangster from Ludhiana's Meharban who supplied weapons to the killers.
The police claimed to have solved the mystery behind the attacks on RSS Shakhas and the firing on Amit Arora, a Ludhiana based Hindu leader. Five incidents of targeted killings had taken place between April 2016 and February 2017.
The DGP said the conspiracy to target these leaders to create communal strife and destabilize the state was hatched by some militant operatives from foreign countries.
He said that they have vital clues about the identities of the operatives but disclosing it at the moment could hamper the ongoing investigations.
Three motorcycles and five weapons used in the killings were recovered, including a 9 mm pistol, 32 bore and 30 bore pistols, which were used to commit of most of the crimes.
The motorcycle used in Gagneja killing was thrown in Sirhind canal after the crime and it was recovered today following Hardip's arrest.
Gagneja, who was RSS Punjab Seh Sanghchalak (second-in- command), was shot at in Jalandhar last year in August and died on September 22 after spending 47 days in a hospital.
Preliminary investigations indicate that the conspiracy to trigger violence and mayhem in Punjab was hatched outside the Indian borders, the DGP said.
The modus operandi of the accused was to target RSS leaders and cause communal disharmony in Punjab, the DGP said.
Social media was used to contact and brainwash potential radicals and both the shooters, Hardeep and Ramandeep, were reportedly contacted on Facebook, he said.
They were told to find soft targets of the RSS cadre.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)