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Ludhiana blast: ‘Dead ex-cop got radicalised in jail’, indicates initial probe

By Saima Siddiqui 
Updated Date

Chandigarh: The preliminary investigation in the Ludhiana court complex blast suggests the involvement of pro-Khalistani elements in Pakistan, gangsters, and drug smugglers, said Punjab director-general of police Siddharth Chattopadhyaya on Saturday.

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As per police officials, dismissed Punjab police head constable Gagandeep Singh, who is now being considered the main accused in the blast case, was radicalised in jail after his arrest in August 2019 over possession of drugs (heroin) by the Ludhiana unit of Special Task Force. After spending two years in Ludhiana Jail, Gagandeep was bailed out in September and was to appear in the court again on December 24.

“Preliminary investigations suggest that accused Gagandeep Singh could have developed links with pro-Khalistan elements in the jail, who have used him to target the court premises with the intention to disturb the peace of the state,” said DGP Chattopadhyaya, who added that the police are investigating the case from all angles.

Accused, Gagandeep, wanted to create fear before his hearing’

As per the initial probe, two prisoners linked with a Pakistani narco-terror cell, Ranjeet Singh Cheeta and Sukhwinder Singh ‘Boxer Baba’, were brought out on production warrant on Saturday in Ludhiana and remanded to seven-day police custody. A woman cop who used to be a naib reader at the office of the Khanna superintendent of police and is suspected to be Gagandeep’s friend has also been detained. Gagandeep was a reader in the same office as her from 2015 to 2017.

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The high-intensity explosion on Thursday afternoon in a public toilet at the district court complex in Ludhiana had killed Gagandeep and injured six other persons. The investigation has identified the deceased cop as the accused who planted the explosive material. Gagandeep has his court hearing on Friday in the court of additional sessions judge on the first floor of the district court complex. Witnesses were supposed to be presented for their statements in court. The next hearing of this case is now February 3, 2022.

The DGP said that the accused wanted to create fear and panic at the court premises before the scheduled hearing of his ongoing case.

The district court was functioning as usual, when the blast took place and it was so powerful, that the public toilet was damaged and several windowpanes of the building were shattered.

The DGP said the material used for the explosion is yet to be ascertained as the samples have been sent to the forensic lab. “A team of NSG and that of the state forensic experts were called for a post-blast investigation,” he said.

During the course of systematic clearing of debris at the blast site, the forensic team collected some vital clues like damaged mobile set and burnt clothes on the body of the deceased besides other material evidence, the DGP added.

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Chattopadhyaya lauded his police force for cracking the cases within 24 hours after zeroing in on the identity of the deceased as Gagandeep Singh of Khanna, who was recruited in Punjab Police as a constable and dismissed in August 2019 after 385 g of heroin was recovered from his possession.

“I am proud of the Punjab Police for successfully cracking the case in less than 24 hours,” said Chattopadhyaya while addressing a press conference here at Punjab Police headquarters on Saturday.

During the course of the post-mortem, the police were able to identify the deceased from his tattoo mark on the right arm. Separately, the DNA samples of the body were also collected, he added. The DGP said that accused Gagandeep Singh was working as a munshi at Khanna’s Sadar police station when he was arrested with heroin and an NDPS case was registered at SAS Nagar STF police station, Mohali. The case is under trial at the prosecution evidence stage, said the DGP.

The Punjab police chief has also visited the court complex where the blast took place on Thursday and had a meeting with district and sessions judge, Ludhiana and reviewed the security arrangements. The DGP also held the meeting with field officers on Friday and directed them to keep utmost vigil to prevent any further terror attacks in the state.

No politics in the case against Majithia

The DGP ruled out any politics in the case against Akali leader Bikram Singh Majithia, whose bail was rejected by the Mohali court on Friday. Chattopadhyaya said that the investigation is going on even while he is yet to be arrested. “Law is taking its own course and there is no politics behind registration of the cases,” he said.

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