Sharpshooter Shera who ‘killed’ RSS’ Gagneja held
Ludhiana: The Punjab Police have arrested Hardeep Singh, alias Shera, a sharpshooter allegedly behind at least seven high-profile killings in the state since 2016.
This is the fifth arrest connected to the Pakistan ISI terror module busted a few days ago. The module is believed to be behind the targeted killings of several Hindu leaders, including those of the RSS and Shiv Sena, besides a pastor.
While five killings took place between April 2016 and February 2017, two happened in July and October.
Addressing the media, DGP Suresh Arora, accompanied by DGP-Intelligence Dinkar Gupta, said the police had traced the suspects’ handlers, who were part of a larger ISI conspiracy stretching to the UK, Italy and Canada. The role of the Khalistan Liberation Force (KLF) was also being investigated. The DGP said they had vital clues about the identities of the handlers.
Hardeep (21), a resident of Majri Kihnewali village, was arrested from a gymnasium in Fatehgarh Sahib this morning. He had fled to Italy on August 12, 2016, after killing RSS state vice-president Brig Jagdish Gagneja (retd) on August 6, making it difficult to connect him to the murders, the DGP said.
Baghapurana SHO Jangjeet Singh Bajwa said Hardeep tried to escape but was overpowered around 5.30 am. Several weapons, including a .9 mm pistol, .30 pistol, .32 pistol, .315 single-shot pistol, a Swiss-made air pistol and 60 cartridges, were recovered.
Sources said Hardeep bought the air pistol in Italy for training. The motorcycle used in Brig Gagneja’s killing was recovered from the Sirhind canal today.
Hardeep reportedly worked with Ramandeep Singh, alias Canadian, alias Billa, alias Chooti Bhain, of Chuharwal in Ludhiana. The two met at Gurdwara Dukh Niwaran Sahib in Ludhiana.
“The accused had picked RSS leaders to cause communal disharmony in Punjab. The accused had gone to Jalandhar thrice before finally shooting Brig Gagneja. They always wore masks to hide their identity from CCTV cameras and destroyed clothes after each crime,” said DGP Arora.
Both Hardeep and Ramandeep were reportedly contacted on Facebook by their ISI handlers, who used the social media to pick and radicalise youth, the DGP said.
“The two worked in close coordination despite having little information about one another. They kept contact through a mobile app — Signal — and were told to pick soft targets in the RSS. In Brig Gagneja and pastor cases, the targets were given by agencies outside of Punjab, while the rest were selected by the accused,” the DGP said.