The Hush Post, Chandigarh
In a major decision taken on Thursday evening Punjab government decided to hand over the investigation of seven cases of target killings in the state to National Investigation Agency (NIA). The seven cases being handed over to NIA include killing of RSS leader Ravinder Gosain, in which the investigation had already been handed over to NIA before the terror module was busted by the Punjab Police. (Gosain was killed in Ludhiana on October 17 this year) Government has proposed that the case of the murder of Brigadier Jagdish Gagneja, State Vice President of RSS, which was being probed by CBI, be also transferred to NIA. (Gagneja was killed in Jalandhar in August 2016) Other cases to be handed over to NIA include January 2016 firing on RSS Shakha at Kidwai Nagar and February 2016 firing on Amit Arora, Local Hindu Leader – both in Ludhiana. The list includes April 2016 Khanna killing of Durga Das Gupta, President, Labour Service Wing, Shiv Sena, Punjab; January 2017 killing of Amit Sharma, Zila Pracharak Hindu Takht IN Ludhiana; February 2017 killing of Dera Sacha Sauda followers Satpal Kumar and his son Ramesh Kumar in Khanna; July 2017 Ludhiana murder of Christian Pastor Sultan Masih.
Disclosing this here on Thursday, an official spokesperson said it had been decided to transfer the cases to NIA under Section 6 of the National Investigation Agency (NIA) Act, 2008, since the modus operandi in all the cases was the same. It had also been found that the interstate as well as international perpetrators/handlers/actors and terrorist/militant angle involved in the criminal conspiracy, to disturb peace and communal harmony in the border state of Punjab by selectively targeting leaders of certain groups, were the same.
The decision to transfer the cases was taken after a NIA team, led by its Director YC Modi, held discussions with officials of Punjab Police on Monday. The two teams mutually felt that the central agency was better equipped to undertake further investigations into the cases. With handlers, conspirators and financers in all these targeted killing cases operating from foreign soil, in countries such as UK, Canada, Italy etc, the investigations needed to be more broad-based, they both agreed.
Following the decision, Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh has directed the Punjab Police to hand over all the material in the cases to the NIA for further investigation into the cases, in which the police had recently arrested UK citizen Jagtar Singh Johal and some others to solve the cases of targeted killing of RSS/Shiv Sena/DSS leaders in the state between January 2016 and October 2017. The Chief Minister has directed that complete support be extended to NIA to uncover the full extent of the conspiracy to disturb Punjab’s peace and harmony.
The spokesperson said the move was aimed at ensuring that the foreign based networks conspiring against Punjab are dismantled and action taken against foreign handlers (both organizations and individuals) through cooperation with the Ministry of External Affairs, Interpol, Europol, foreign governments etc. It was vital to crack down on such elements that are carrying out murder and mayhem, and revive terrorism in Punjab. The decision would also help dispel false, slanderous and orchestrated social media campaign launched by interested governments, organisations and elements to raise funds, and to deter the police and prosecuting agencies from doing their duty, it was felt.