In an alert that, if true, would test the preparedness of our security agencies, intelligence units of Punjab Police have warned that Sikh militants were planning to engage in sabotage activities. And that the Commonwealth Games, being held in October, too, could be on their radar.
The Daily Mail’s investigations reveal that office of the Punjab Additional Director General of Police (Intelligence) had, in a note on May 28, informed all commissioners and district police chiefs that Sikh militant leaders were under pressure from their fan club and supporters across India to carry out sabotage activities and that prominent militants could return to the state from different parts of the country.
These investigations further reveal that the note mentioned that militant activities, including bomb blasts, could happen before the Commonwealth Games and that Khalistant Zindabad Force head Ranjit Singh Neeta had successfully smuggled 15 kg of RDX into Punjab from Mumbai. The report said one part of the consignment, which had been later recovered from Ferozepur, had been delivered in Rajpura and that two other consignments were likely to be delivered in Nawanshahr and Balachaur and in Sirsa district of Haryana.
The note said the third consignment was meant for a strike against controversial Dera Sacha Sauda sect chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, who has invited the ire of the hardliners by allegedly projecting himself similar to tenth Sikh Guru Gobind Singh.
An intelligence official, when asked about the input, tried to put it in perspective saying if nothing had happened since May when the input had been referred to police officials, there could be chances of it not proving correct. The official maintained there was no need for a panic on the issue.
Meanwhile, the intelligence input also stressed that a new trend was being witnessed with the uncovering of modules of foreign-based Sikh militants. The input said there were two specific cases, with one being the killing of Rashtriya Sikh Sangat chief Rulda Singh in Patiala. It said foreign-based militants who had come to India especially for this task had done the killing.
In another case, the input said, Baba Bakshish Singh had returned from abroad had raised a module. The module had planned blasting the Indian Oil Corporation bottling plant at Nabha and also the Indian Air Force (IAF) station at Halwara. One member of this module, Harminder Singh alias Raj, had reached Indian from either Thailand or South Africa. The report said this module used local people who provided the militants with accommodation and conveyance. It said the module members did not use mobile phones, which made it difficult to track them.
It is in this context that the Punjab Police intelligence agency received information that foreign militants, particularly Ranjeet Singh Neeta, could enter India to target the Commonwealth Games. Militants identified in the report include Balwinder Singh from Britain, Jassi (earlier residing in Italy and now based in France), Rana from the United States and Pamma, who was involved in the killing of Rashtriya Sikh Sangat president Rulda Singh in Punjab last year.
Earlier on 12th of this month labeling the 26/11 terror attacks as “deceptively simple and highly coordinated with little money expended”, the FBI has said the crippling flaw in the Mumbai police’s defence against the initial assault was that its officers didn’t even carry weapons.
The premier US investigative agency has also pointed out that the Indian forces did not have the sophisticated gadgets and systems to intercept the communication between the attackers and their handlers in Pakistan.
FBI said absence of weapons with the Mumbai police had led to dozens of people being mowed down at five-star hotels, a train station and a Jewish centre before the specialised Indian forces killed all but one of the terrorists.
“Half of these guys weren’t armed” during the initial assault in Mumbai, said Sergent Alan Matas. “That’s half the battle.” “If something like this happened here, we would respond with a more organised attack,” Detective Ivan Cabrera was quoted as saying by ‘The Miami Herald’ newspaper.
FBI’s Supervisory Special Agent Anthony Tindall told members of the agency’s Joint Terrorism Task Force and others gathered at the Sunrise Civic Centre over the weekend that “in the US, we would bring guns and bullets much quicker than the Indians could have.” Tindall, now based in Hawaii as the FBI’s liaison to the US Pacific Command, said India sought the FBI’s help during the November 26-28 attack and the bureau deployed eight agents from Los Angeles as well as technicians from Quantico, Virginia.
He said FBI gained the trust of Indian investigators almost immediately because its agents and technicians were able to glean significant information from GPS, cellphones, satellite phones, Internet data, financial records, witnesses and boats used by the terrorists.
One of the things we learned from this operation is that we needed to bring them something they couldn’t do themselves,” Tindall told the audience, while showing TV news accounts of the massacre. “A lot of the information led back to Pakistan,” he was quoted as saying by the newspaper.
Another major turning point in the investigation was the early arrest of Pakistani national Muhammad Ajmal Kasab, the lone survivor. He was a poor, uneducated young man recruited, trained and selected for the mission directed by Lashkar-e-Taiba. Tindall called Ajmal, who joined another terrorist in the deadly Mumbai railway station attack, “an incredible source of information.”
Ajmal was found guilty in May of 86 counts of murder, conspiracy and waging war against India and received the death penalty from the Indian court. Tindall also said that a Mumbai-style attack in the US would not likely cause as much death and destruction because local, state and federal law enforcement would be better coordinated.