Khalistani terrorist Harminder Singh Mintoo was arrested at a railway station in New Delhi on Monday morning, a day after he escaped from a high security prison in Punjab.
The Khalistan Liberation Force (KLF) leader was nabbed from the parking area of Nizamuddin railway station by Delhi Police's Special Cell, Special Commissioner of Police Arvind Deep told IANS. He was later produced in court which sent him to seven days police custody, on the Delhi Police's plea.
"He was arrested between 1 and 2 a.m. when he was taking a ticket from the counter for going to Panvel (Maharashtra) from Nizamuddin," Deep said, adding Mintoo planned to move subsequently to Goa, where he had spent 18 years since 1989 and had good contacts.
Mintoo had also a plan to flee from the country to Thailand or Malaysia where also he had several good contacts. Earlier he had also visited these countries on a fake passport, said the senior police officer.
According to police, after escaping from the high-security Nabha Jail in Punjab, Mintoo along with Gurpreet Sekhon and fellow terrorist Kashmira Singh Galwadi, escaped in a SUV. Sekhon, who was the mastermind of the jailbreak, dropped the duo at Haryana's Kaithal.
Trying to change their looks by trimming their beards and moustaches, they travelled to Panipat and then boarded another bus to reach Delhi, where they separated, he said.
"When we surrounded him at the parking area of railway station, Mintoo also tried to attack the team with a pistol but police managed to apprehend him. A pistol and six cartridges were recovered from his possession," said Deep, adding the operation was still on to arrest Kashmira Singh.
"He may be in Delhi, we are working on it," he said.
On their escape, he said it was "all pre-planned". "We are suspecting that they have also exchanged money from their associates which is also a matter of investigation. We are interrogating him," said Deep.
An earlier report said the arrest followed a joint operation by Punjab Police and Delhi Police.
Asked if this was true, Deep said the Punjab Police had "alerted us that Mintoo might go towards Delhi.
"Punjab Police had alerted Delhi Police on Sunday morning that the escaped terrorists and gangsters could go toward the national capital to escape to other parts of the country. We had deployed teams of Special Cell personnel at every railway station, bus terminal, bus stand, guest house, hotel and escape routes on border areas of the city," he said.
"We have also shared their photos with the teams and gave directions to arrest any person involved in suspicious activities," Deep said.
Mintoo was earlier wanted in more than 10 terror related cases, which included the 2008 attack on Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, Deep said.
The arrest came within 24 hours after Mintoo, another terrorist and four gangsters broke out of the Nabha Jail on Sunday morning after it was attacked by 10-12 armed men. On Sunday evening, Parminder Singh alias Pamma Singh, one of the alleged gunmen who carried out the sensational jailbreak, was caught in Shamli district in Uttar Pradesh.
Additional Sessions Judge Reetesh Singh allowed police to question Mintoo till December 5 as Delhi Police told the court that they were probing his links with Pakistan's intelligence agency ISI, and that custodial interrogation will help in nabbing other co-accused who have helped him in his escape from jail.
Police also informed the court that a fresh FIR was registered against Mintoo under Section 20 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act for being a member of a banned terror organisation.
Meanwhile, Home Minister Rajnath Singh said a report had been sought from the Punjab government and promised the central government's assistance to nab those on the run.
"The Home Ministry has been doing whatever needs to be done," he said.
"This (jailbreak) is a state subject and the Home Ministry has already sent advisories to states in this regard. The state (Punjab) government is looking into the matter," he said.