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India: 2019 Punjab blast mastermind extradited from Austria

Bikramjit Singh, alias Bikkar Panjwar, alias Bikkar Baba, was arrested after his extradition process was completed by the competent authorities of Linz, Austria, in coordination with Interpol.

Man in handcuffs behind his back

By: Melvin Samuel

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Thursday arrested Bikramjit Singh, wanted in the 2019 Tarn Taran bomb blast case, at the Delhi airport after securing his extradition from Austria, an official spokesperson said. The official said Bikramjit Singh, alias Bikkar Panjwar, alias Bikkar Baba, was arrested after his extradition process was completed by the competent authorities of Linz, Austria, in coordination with Interpol.

Singh had formed a terror group along with his close associates to carry out attacks in Punjab, the official said, adding that the NIA had sent a team to Austria to bring him back to India.

After securing a non-bailable warrant against him from the NIA special court in Mohali and a subsequent red notice, Singh was detained in Linz on March 22, 2021, the spokesperson said.

The Linz Regional Court extradited him after the completion of legal proceedings, the official added.

According to the NIA, its probe showed Singh not only instigated the co-accused in the case and others to commit terror acts but also conducted training for fabricating improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and using them.

During various processions and agitations, he carried bombs and instigated other participants to attack government agencies to strike terror in the population at large, it said.

Singh is the key conspirator in the conspiracy to target Dera Muradpura, the NIA said.

The agency had filed a charge sheet against nine “pro-Khalistan” people for their alleged involvement in the 2019 Tarn Taran blast in Punjab, in which two people, who were involved in the terror conspiracy, were killed.

Those charge-sheeted include Bikramjit Singh, Massa Singh, Harjit Singh, Gurjant Singh and Manpreet Singh, all residents of Tarn Taran; Chandeep Singh of Gurdaspur; Malkit Singh and Amarjeet Singh of Amritsar and one juvenile. They were charged under relevant provisions of the Indian Penal Code, the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and the Explosive Substances Act.

The charges against Vikram Singh and Harpreet Singh, both residents of Tarn Taran, have abated on account of their death in the incident, the official said.

On September 4, 2019, a powerful explosion took place at a vacant plot on the outskirts of Pandori Gola village in Tarn Taran in which two people were killed and another was grievously injured. They were digging a pit to retrieve concealed explosives.

The case was re-registered by the NIA on September 23, 2019.

The accused were “radicalised pro-Khalistan” youngsters who had formed a terrorist gang under the leadership of Bikramjit Singh, the NIA spokesperson said.

The members of the terrorist gang carried out secessionist activities on the ground as well as on social media to instigate members of the Sikh community to agitate for the secession of Punjab from India, the NIA said in its charge sheet.

The terror gang chose targets for attack with a view to promoting enmity between people of different communities, creating unrest and disturbing social and religious harmony, thereby endangering the maintenance of public peace and order in Punjab, the NIA alleged.

They illegally procured explosive substances, and prepared and tested crude bombs to carry out terrorist acts in Punjab, it added.

The accused had planned to target a dera at Muradpura in Tarn Taran and held a series of secret meetings before choosing the date of the attack. Harjit, Gurjant, Vikram, and Harpreet were retrieving the buried explosives when the explosion took place, the official said.

(PTI)

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