Army deserter, son of former militant among five arrested

Anju Agnihotri Chaba

The accused -- Harpreet Singh, Jagtar Singh alias Jagga

A 24-year-old Army deserter and son of a Khalistani militant were among five arrested on Tuesday by the Hoshiarpur police in the case related to theft of two INSAS assault rifles from Army cantonment at Panchmarhi in Hoshangabad district of Madhya Pradesh (MP) on December 6.

Sepoy Harpreet Singh (24), an Army deserter, and Jagtar Singh alias Jagga, the son of Khalistan Zindabad Force (KZF) militant Harbhjan Singh, are the ones who had stolen the riles. The stolen Army property, which included ammunition too, was recovered from a sugarcane field Tuesday. According to the police, both had stolen the rifles to allegedly form a gang of their own to commit robberies. “There is no militancy link to the arrest of these men at the moment,” said a police official.

The other arrested accused are Gurjinder Singh Kaka, Karamjit Singh Monu, both from Minai village in Hoshiarpur, and Sarabjit Singh of Chautala village of Hoshiarpur. Hoshiarpur police will seek their police remand Wednesday for further probe.

The stolen arms were recovered from a sugarcane field

After the theft of the rifles, Hoshiarpur police was informed by the Army intelligence and MP’s Anti Terrorist Squad (ATS) that the accused hail from Miani village of Hoshiarpur district under Tanda police station.

After this, three teams were formed by Hoshiarpur police under the command of Tanda DSP Gurpreet Singh, DSP (Special branch), Hoshiarpur, Munish Kumar, and Dasuya DSP Anil Bhanot. The accused were apprehend from village Chautala and Kandali Narangpur under Hariana and Tanda police stations on the intervening night of December 9 and 10. Police also arrested three others who were to join their gang here for committing robberies.

Tanda DSP Gurpreet Singh informed that both of them had also engaged three more youth here to form a gang to commit criminal activities by using these weapons. “We have registered a case under Sections 399, 402, 412 and 120 (B) of IPC and Arms Act and will get police remand tomorrow,” added DSP.

Police sources revealed that Jagga’s father, Harbhjan Singh, was arrested in September from Chola Sahib in Tarn Taran district in connection with a blast in Tarn Taran district of Punjab. In Tarn Taran, drones were allegedly used to drop weapons from Pakistan as police had recovered 5-AK 47 rifles, pistols, satellite phones and hand grenades.

Teams of MP ATS and Intelligence Bureau (IB) have also reached Hoshiarpur following their arrest. Police sources said that the accused can be taken on production warrant by MP police or Anti-terrorist Squad (ATS) through the court. Harpreet was commissioned in the Army in December 2015 and trained as bandsman at Panchmarhi centre and deputed as B-Fat Clarriant (Musician) in June 2017. He was absent from duty from October 15 as he was posted at Ramgarh in Jharkhand.

It is learnt that both Harpreet and Jagga had reached Panchmarhi centre on December 5 and posed as Armymen and after engaging sentries in a conversation, they had stolen these rifles and magazines from Sentries Amit Kumar and Munishwar Kumar deputed on guard duty at the main gate of the centre.

According to the FIR registered in on December 6 under Section 380 IPC at police station Panchmarri, district Hoshangabad (MP), two INSAS rifles, three magazines and 20 live cartridges were stolen from AEC centre, Panchmarhi.