(This was originally posted in Hindustan Times)
Amritsar Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh has ordered an high-alert in the state, after the police busted the fourth terror module with links to Pakistan over the past 40 days on Tuesday. Four more members of an Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI-backed) terrorist module, involved in a bid to blow up an oil tanker with an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) tiffin bomb last month, were arrested on Tuesday. Those held are Rubal Singh, Vicky Bhutti, Malkeet Singh and Gurpreet Singh, alias Gopi. Rubal, also wanted in a murder case of September 1, was picked up from Ambala, the other three were nabbed from their villages in Ajnala, Amritsar. Their fifth accomplice, Gurmukh Brar, had been arrested on August 20.
Two Pakistan-based terrorists, including a Pakistani Intelligence Officer, have also been identified and named in the case registered in August. Taking note of the ‘increased attempts by terror groups to disturb the state’s peace’, the CM has directed the police to be on high alert, particularly in view of schools and educational institutions reopening, the festive season and the assembly polls.
Punjab director general of police (DGP) Dinkar Gupta said the two terrorists from Pakistan named in the case are International Sikh Youth Federation chief Lakhbir Singh Rode and Qasim, an intelligence officer. The DGP added that Qasim and Rode had promised to transfer over ₹2 lakh to five arrested accused for carrying out the blast. “Rubal and Vicky Bhutti were in touch with Qasim, who had reportedly tasked the four members to blast an oil tanker for causing maximum damage to people and property,” the top cop said, adding that the blast was made on August 8 when, at about 11.30 pm, the Ajnala police received information that an Oil Tanker (PB-02 CR 5926) parked at Sharma Filling Station Ajnala, located on the Amritsar-Ajnala Road near village Bhakha Tara Singh, had caught fire. Ultimately, the fire brigade doused the flames.
Preliminary investigations revealed that Gurmukh had placed the tiffin IED at Hambowal on Jalandhar-Amritsar highway, from where, on August 6, 2021, Vicky, Malkeet and Gurpreet Singh picked it up on the directions of Rode and Qasim. The trio hid the bomb near a canal in the Rajasansi area. A pen-drive was attached with the tiffin box, which contained intructions to operate the Tiffin Bomb IED.
On August 8, 2021, these terrorist operatives carried out a recce of Sharma Filling Station during the day and placed the IED at about 11pm, with the timer set to eight minutes. The blast took place at 11.30pm. All five arrested operatives, along with Rode and Qasim, have been booked under Sections of the Indian Penal Code, the Unlawful Activities (prevention) Act and the Explosive Substance Act.