The probe into pro-Khalistan modules busted in Punjab recently has revealed that foreign-based terrorists and their local handlers are using money to lure the state’s youth, who in fact lack ideological conviction.
According to an internal analysis of the intelligence wing of Punjab Police, made available by a highly placed source, most of those arrested in these cases belong to non-Sikh families with poor financial background. A senior official of the internal security wing, which deals with such cases, said the arrested youths were mostly unemployed and had been promised money or a future abroad.
The recent arrests and recoveries pertain to grenade attacks at an army camp in Pathankot and a similar attack on a CIA police station in SBS Nagar, both in last November, besides another grenade attack on a police post in Rupnagar on March 9, the eve of assembly election results in Punjab.
Among the six suspects identified by the SBS Nagar police in the Pathankot grenade blast — in which International Youth Sikh Federation (IYSF) chief Lakhbir Singh Rode, who is based in Pakistan, has been identified as the mastermind —four belong to very poor families.
Police officials who have quizzed these suspects claim that while one Gurwinder Singh, 30, of Kharal village in Gurdaspur was promised a job in Dubai and free travel from India, another Raman Kumar, 19, was a drug addict and was paid a meagre amount of ₹12,000 to join the module.
Similarly, in the CIA police station case, the module members were ordinary youths apart from one Kuldeep Kumar, alias Sunny, from Ludhiana who had motivated them to carry out the grenade attack in SBS Nagar on November 7 last year. Sunny lured the local youth having petty criminal record using personal links or distant friendships and would allocate money as per their role, found the police probe.
Sandeep Sharma, senior superintendent of police (SSP), SBS Nagar, said those who performed the task under the guidance of their masters are neither radical nor they know much about Khalistan. “Sunny lured them with money on behalf of Rinda. The money involved ranges from ₹15,000 to ₹1 lakh,” said the SSP.
In the Rupnagar police post case, those arrested from a village in Himachal Pradesh’s Una were having no criminal background and belonged to poor families. Aman, 28, who had hidden a tiffin bomb in a well that was recovered during the raid on April 22, is the cousin of another suspect from the Una village who had come in contact with Sunny during his stay in Ludhiana.
Aman had done bachelor of commerce from a local college and was promised ₹1 lakh besides migration abroad, the probe revealed. According to the FIR, Rinda has been identified as the main conspirator in this case too.
Senior police officials say that even in the terror module busted for a motorcycle blast in Fazilka’s Jalalabad in September last year, the youth, Praveen Kumar, who planted the bomb was having no radical inclination.
The new trend, Punjab Police senior officials say, is contrary to the earlier trend when those running such modules used to radicalise the youth with pro-Khalistan propoganda through social media and then motivate them to carry out terror activities.
“Now, it is being seen that the mastermind sitting abroad gives directions to his aide in Punjab, who then involves the local youth using peer pressure, drugs or money. It is a worrying trend that surely poses a bigger challenge to us,” said the internal security wing officer cited earlier.