Punjab Police break another link in Pak-backed Hizbul Mujahideen narco-terror network


Chandigarh (Punjab) : Notching another major success against Pakistan-sponsored narco-terrorism networks in the country, the Punjab Police on Saturday morning arrested Ranjeet Singh alias Rana alias Cheeta, a big fish in the ISI-controlled network, with links to Hizbul Mujahideen commander Riaz Ahmed Naikoo, who was killed by security forces in Kashmir recently.

According to an official statement, with more than 10 criminal cases against him, Ranjeet was one of the key links in the network engaged in smuggling of a large number of composite consignments of drugs and illegal weapons through the Indo-Pak border through the legal land route of ICP Attari and also across the border fencing on Indo-Pak border in Punjab and J&K.

He was also wanted for bringing in 532 kg of heroin and 52 kg of mixed narcotics, worth over Rs 2,700 crore from Pakistan in a consignment of 600 bags of rock salt, through the Integrated Check Post, Attari, Amritsar, June 29, 2019.

In the June 2019 operation, the Customs Department, Amritsar, had seized one of the biggest hauls of 532 kg of suspected heroin and 52 kg of suspected mixed Narcotics at ICP, Amritsar and apprehended two persons, Tariq Ahmed Lone, resident of Handwara, J&K and Gurpinder Singh, resident of Amritsar.

Announcing Ranjeet’s arrest, along with that of his brother Gagandeep alias Bhola, from Begu village in Sirsa, Haryana, Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh lauded the Punjab Police for their aggressive operation against terrorists and drug smugglers despite their pre-occupation with the enforcement of curfew and other measures to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

Captain Amarinder also congratulated the police force, led by DGP Dinkar Gupta, for the arrest of Hilal Ahmed Wagay, an overground worker of the banned Hizbul Mujahideen. It is notable that the inputs shared by the Punjab Police are learnt to have played a significant role in the operations by the J&K Police against Riaz Ahmed Naikoo, the Hizbul Muhajideen Commander in the Valley. Two more Hizbul operatives were later, on May 5, arrested by the Punjab Police from Amritsar.

Following Hilal’s arrest, the Chief Minister said in a statement, adding that the Punjab Police had shared Hilal’s disclosures with the Central government and its agencies. During the course of investigations, CCTV footage of a large number of CCTV camera points on the possible route was gathered and examined followed by technical analysis, which led to the apprehension of Bikram Singh alias Vicky and his brother Maninder Singh alias Mani, with 1 kg of heroin and Rs 32.25 lakh currency, on May 5, 2020.

Their interrogation revealed that both Bikram and Maninder, along with their cousins Ranjeet Singh alias Cheeta, Iqbal Singh alias Shera and Sarwan Singh, were dealing in drugs smuggled from across the border, and that Bikram had come to deliver Rs 29 lakh drug money to Hilal Ahmed on the instructions of Ranjit Singh alias Cheetah, Iqbal Singh alias Shera and Sarwan Singh.

Bikram alias Vicky and his brother Maninder Singh alias Mani who were arrested from Amritsar on May 5, 2020, made certain disclosures about the activities of Ranjit and his brother Sarwan. Further analysis of data, along with NIA, led to the identification of Ranjeet’s Sirsa location, and subsequently, in coordination with the Haryana Police, the hideout was busted and he was caught with his brother in the wee hours of today, said the Chief Minister.

According to the Chief Minister, Ranjeet Cheeta was one of the most active nodes of the extensive and common network of drug smugglers/couriers set up by the Pak ISI to push in composite consignments of drugs, weapons, FICN from Pakistan into Punjab through various means, including drones. He had been convicted in 2008, 2009, 2011, etc., for heroin smuggling. He was awarded 12 years rigorous imprisonment for smuggling of 5 kg heroin but was acquitted by the Supreme Court in March 2018 by giving him benefit of doubt.

The Chief Minister said that 2019 had witnessed record heroin seizures of about 464 kg, which was largest ever for any single year. There had been a steady increase in heroin seizures since his government took, said the Chief Minister, adding that heroin seizures jumped five times between 2016 (91 kg) and 2019 (464 kg).

Giving details of the Sirsa operations, DGP Dinkar Gupta said that he spoke to his Haryana counterpart Manoj Yadav at around 9 pm on Friday, and thereafter coordination was established by CP, Amritsar with Arun Nehra, SP, Sirsa. A team of Amritsar Police comprising ASP Abhimanyu Rana, currently working as SHO Sadar, DCP (D) Amritsar, Mukhvinder Singh Bhullar and ADCP (D) Jugraj Singh started for Sirsa on 8 May at 11 pm and reached around 3:30 am, and the outer cordon was set-up by 4:30 am.

The outer cordon of the area was laid jointly by the Haryana Police and the Punjab Police (SHO Police Station B/Division and SHO Police Station Gate Hakiman, Commissionerate Amritsar, led the outer cordon team). The raid team comprising of members of Police Station Sadar and CIA Staff, under the guidance of DCP (D) Amritsar Mukhvinder Singh Bhullar, raided two locations.

At the first location, police officials from the first raid team entered the premises but the suspects were not found at the location. At the second location, the compound wall was scaled by ADCP (D) Jugraj Singh and SHO Sadar ASP (UT) Abhimanyu Rana. The door leading to the room was covered by both officers and upon knocking on the door, Ranjit alias Cheeta opened the door slowly.

As soon as he saw the police party he tried to close the gate and grab an axe lying close to his bed but the door was kicked open and Ranjeet was caught by both the officers. His brother Gagandeep Singh was sleeping in the other room and was arrested from there.

Gupta said that Ranjeet Singh Cheeta is one of the ‘biggest fishes’ of the extensive drug and weapon supply network controlled by the Pak’s ISI. He said Pakistan has been relentlessly pushing drugs, explosives, weapons, hand-grenades, etc., through the Indo-Pak border in Punjab in an attempt to destroy the state’s youth by promoting narco-terrorism. (ANI)