'Most wanted' gangster, associates arrested with sophisticated weapons in Punjab

Chandigarh, May 8 (PTI) A 'most wanted' gangster and his six associates have been arrested and a large consignment of sophisticated weapons seized from them by the Punjab Police, a senior police officer said on Friday.

Gangster Baljinder Singh alias Billa, who was wanted in more than 18 cases including that of murder, arms smuggling and drug peddling, had alleged links with the slain Pakistan-based Khalistan Liberation Force chief Harmeet Singh Happy and Germany-based Bagga of the Khalistan Zindabad Force, the police said.

Punjab Director General of Police Dinkar Gupta said the arrests were made in a joint operation by a team of Organised Crime Control Unit, Counter Intelligence Jalandhar Unit and the Kapurthala police on Thursday.

The seized consignment of weapons included three SIG Sauer pistols, used by members of the US Secret Service, the police said.

Besides Billa, the six arrested are Sukhjinder Singh, Mohit Sharma, Lovepreet Singh, Mangal Singh, Maninderjeet Singh and Lovepreet Singh alias Lovely.

All the accused have been kept separately as they are being tested for COVID-19 by a special team of doctors, Gupta said in a statement here.

The seized consignment of weapons included two 30 bore drum machine guns, three pistols (marked SIG Sauer made in Germany), two Glock pistols (made in Austria), two 30 bore pistols, one 32 bore pistol, one .315 bore rifle, 341 live cartridges and two drum magazines and 14 pistol magazines.

Rs 3 lakh in cash and one hundred Australian dollars were also recovered from them, said Gupta.

Terming it 'one of the biggest caches of highly sophisticated weapons seized from a criminal gang', Gupta said the SIG Sauer pistols are in fact being used by members of the US Secret Service, which protects the highest elected leaders of the United States, especially the President of the United States.

The DGP said preliminary investigations suggested that most of the weapons recovered from Billa were smuggled from Pakistan in different consignments.

Police were also investigating the role of militants in the supply chain of illegal weapons.

Three vehicles were also seized from the criminals, he said.

The police also learnt that a part of consignment, consisting of AK-74 rifles, which was pushed into the Mamdot area of Ferozepur sector from across the border in September, 2019 by the Special Task Force Punjab, was also meant for the Billa criminal gang.

Police had inputs that Billa, along with his associates, was taking shelter in the Kapurthala area with the consignment of illegal arms.

Police teams laid siege around Dadwindi and Mothanwala areas of Sultanpur Lodhi Police station and made the arrests.

A case under relevant sections of the IPC, Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and the Arms Act was registered.

Billa during preliminary investigations revealed that he was in contact with various Pakistan-based weapons and drugs smugglers and had already received many consignments of weapons and drugs from them, mostly in the Ferozepur area.

One of the Pakistan-based smugglers was allegedly working as courier on the Indo-Pak border for operatives of Khalistan Liberation Force based in Pakistan and India in the recent past, and had successfully pushed many weapon consignments into the Indian territory, the police said. PTI CHS VSD SMN SMN