Khalistani Terrorist Harminder Singh Mintoo Caught 24 Hours After Massive Jailbreak In Punjab Nabha

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Chandigarh: Khalistani terrorist Harminder Singh Mintoo, who escaped in a massive jailbreak in Punjab yesterday, has been caught near Delhi's border with Haryana. Five other prisoners remain missing.

Mintoo and the others made their escape when a group of armed men in police uniforms came in four cars and stormed the high security Nabha Central Jail on Sunday morning.

A little before 9 am, a dozen men disguised as policemen came to the main gate of the Nabha jail with two handcuffed men, claiming they were bringing them back after a court hearing. After gaining entry, they snatched the rifle of a policeman and split into two groups, one heading to the jail corridor, where the six prisoners were waiting.

They reportedly fired more than 100 rounds at policemen. It took less than 10 minutes for them to break the prisoners out.

As a hunt began across the state, the police opened fire at a car near a check-post around 25 km from the prison, killing a woman in what they admitted was a case of "mistaken identity".

One of the men, Palwinder Singh Pinda, was caught last evening. He told the police that Mintoo and another prisoner Kashmir Singh were not part of the escape plan plotted by Vicky Gounder, a prisoner accused in several cases of murder and highway robbery.

Mintoo allegedly found out about the jailbreak plan from one of Vicky Gounder's associates in the prison and joined the prisoners as they were running away.

49-year-old Mintoo, chief of the banned Khalistan Liberation Force, is an accused in more than 10 terror cases, including the attack on Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim. He was arrested in 2014 when he arrived from Thailand at the Delhi airport.

The Punjab police said he was trying to revive the Khalistan separatist movement and was in touch with Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence officers.

The state's Parkash Singh Badal government was accused by the opposition of "complicity". The Congress said there are fears about an attempt to revive terror in the state ahead of the election next year.

Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal's son and deputy Sukhbir Badal indicated that Pakistan could be behind the jailbreak. Pakistan, he said while visiting the prison, has been "desperate" to revive terror since the September surgical strikes conducted by the army across the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir.

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