With the arrest of most wanted gangster-turned-terrorist and ISI henchman Sukhmeet Pal Singh alias Sukh Bhikhariwal at IGI Airport early on Thursday, Delhi Police Special Cell and intelligence agencies have wound up one of the most extensive investigations of the year.
Sent from UAE on an “Emergency Certificate”, Bhikhariwal was arrested in Delhi on the basis of a lookout circular issued against him. He landed around 6.15am on an Emirates flight and was later produced in a court at Patiala House, which remanded him to eight days in police custody.
An intelligence officer stated that Bhikhariwal was nabbed from a flat in Ras-al-Khaimah in UAE on December 5-6 in a covert operation carried out by Special Cell with assistance from UAE Police, a development first reported by TOI on December 8.
In the first week of December, two Punjab-based assassins and three Kashmir-based Hizbul Mujahideen operatives were arrested from east Delhi. Since then, intelligence agencies were trying to bring Bhikhariwal to India. He had masterminded several targeted killings, including the assassination of Shaurya Chakra awardee Balwinder Singh Sandhu.
Police claimed that while this operation had reaffirmed the growing cooperation between India and the UAE, it had also exposed Pakistan’s spy agency ISI’s plan of trying to use Khalistan and the Kashmir network to revive extremism in Punjab and other parts of the country. In the past three years, UAE and Indian intelligence have coordinated several arrests, including that of Agusta Westland middlemen Christian Michel and Rajiv Saxena.
Bhikhariwal is currently being interrogated by a team of Special Cell officers. He is learnt to have given police crucial information about the functioning of Pakistan-based Khalistani radicals Harmeet Singh alias PhD, the chief of Khalistan Liberation Force who was murdered in February, and Lakhbir Singh alias Rode, the chief of Khalistan Zindabad Force.
The terror-monger is also being questioned about ISI’s “K2 desk” dealing with Kashmir and Khalistan extremism, which has been funding the targeted killings of Right-wing leaders and opponents of terrorism through the spoils of drug trafficking. Bhikhariwal is learnt to have told police about how ISI was once again trying to emulate the model of 2016/17 in Punjab, wherein they executed eight Right-wing leaders and how pro-Khalistani radicals had been employing the services of gangsters for killing Hindu leaders to revive militancy.
In the coming days, Bhikhariwal will be interrogated by intelligence agencies before being handed over to Punjab Police for investigation of their cases.
Bhikhariwal started as a drug trafficker a decade ago and soon got into organised crime. He was tapped by ISI sometime in 2015 through the narco-terror network. He was assigned to get targeted killings done in Punjab and north India. He started receiving foreign funds and hiring hitmen for jobs, apart from acting as a bridge between Khalistan terror elements based in Pak and other countries and ganglords lodged in Punjab jails.