Addressing a press conference this evening, Chief Minister Amarinder Singh claimed that a major conspiracy to fan communal disturbance and destabilise the state was hatched by the ISI.
Though the Punjab government had handed over the case of the killing of RSS state vice president Brigadier (retd) Jagdish Gagneja to the CBI, the state police had cracked the case with the busting of a latest terror module, the eighth such module to be busted since the Congress came to power in the state, he said.
Citing the police probe and interrogation of suspects, the chief minister said the killing of another RSS leader, Ravinder Gosain, last month, had also been solved with these arrests, which had been linked to most of the cases of targeted killings in Ludhiana, Khanna and Jalandhar since January last year.
Those arrested include a gangster, Dharmendra alias Guggni, lodged in Nabha jail, further endorsing the suspicions of a growing nexus between radicals and gangsters, the chief minister revealed.
He said the interrogation of the four conspirators showed that they had met and been trained at various places abroad and had been using encrypted mobile software and apps for communication with handlers based in Pakistan and some western countries.
"The ISI was always looking to disturb the country's peace and radicalise the youth," said the chief minister in response to a question and asserted that the state government would not allow the peace and harmony of Punjab to be disrupted.
He said it was evident from the investigations that the targeted killings were aimed at fanning communal disturbance to further ISI's "anti-India" gameplan since there were strong "indications" of an active involvement of Pakistani intelligence operatives based on Pakistani and foreign soil.
One of the three suspects arrested has been identified as Jimmy Singh, a Jammu resident who recently returned to India from the UK after spending many years there, and was picked up a week ago from Delhi's IGI airport. Others are Jagtar Singh Johal alias Jaggi, a UK national who got married last month and was apprehended from Jalandhar and Dharmender alias Guggni, a gangster from Meharban in Ludhiana who allegedly supplied weapons to the killers.
The fourth accused, who was allegedly the main shooter in various cases, was caught this afternoon and details of him could not be disclosed at this juncture as his interrogation was still continuing, said the chief minister, adding that the police had both forensic and ballistic evidence against him.
The police were on top of the cases, Mr Singh said, adding that he had directed the DGP to work out a system of awards and rewards for the police team that had busted this module and for future too.
While he could not completely rule out such incidents in the future in view of Punjab being a border state, with international conspirators working against it, DGP Suresh Arora assured the people of the state that they were in safe hands of the Punjab police.
The DGP attributed the success in busting the terror module to the team effort of the intelligence and counter-intelligence wings as well as the district police of Batala and Moga.