CHANDIGARH: Lahore-based Babbar Khalsa International (BKI) terrorist outfit’s de facto chief Ratandeep Singh, who had only last year replaced ailing Wadhawa Singh as the BKI head and was sent by Pakistan’s ISI to carry out strikes in Punjab during Navratras, was arrested by Punjab police on Wednesday.
The over six-foot tall terrorist was wanted in several cases, including the 1999 bomb blast at Chandigarh’s Sector 34 passport office and another blast on a Panipat railway bridge the same year .
He was sent to India as Hussain Sheikh Zahid (son of Sheikh Nasiruddin) and was arrested by the State Special Operations Cell (SSOC) team of Punjab police near Gorakhpur on late Wednesday. He was sent to 10-day police remand by an Amritsar court.
The 43-year-old had been tasked by ISI to eliminate several top Hindu leaders in Punjab, said police.
“A plan was conceived after PM Narendra Modi government was sworn in to use Bhindranwale’s name to fan radicalism and polarise the communities after attacking Hindu leaders,” a top Punjab cop told TOI.
Ratandeep’s name had first cropped up last year in August during the interrogation of Lashkar-e-Taiba top militant Abdul Karim Tunda.
Tunda had revealed that he (Tunda) had sent a consignment of explosives to Delhi before the Commonwealth Games 2010 on the demand of BKI’s Ratandeep and that the latter had taken over charge from Wadhawa.
Besides leading BKI, he had been picked up by the ISI to head an old terror outfit Bhindranwale Tigers Force of Khalistan (BTFK).
Punjab cops had been on his trail ever since he got training with one ISI commandant Colonel Sahbaz Minhas in Lahore in July this year.
He was first arrested by the police on May 9, 1996, while sneaking into India through the Samba sector but managed to escape.
Ratandeep, who belongs to Rohar village of Jind in Haryana began his terror activities in 1992 when he went to Bangkok and then to Germany.
He got in touch with Babbar Khalsa operatives in Pakistan in March 1993 when he went to Lahore on a forged passport issued in the name of Harjinder Singh from Kapurthala. He then underwent arms training in August 1993 and June 1994 at a camp located in hilly terrain, 45 km off Islamabad.