Punjab prisons on high alert after Intel warns of imminent ‘jailbreak’

The MHA report pointed out that the mastermind behind this sinister design was Babbar Khalsa International’s sought-after terrorist Harvinder Singh Rinda, who is suspected to be operating out of Pakistan.

Punjab Jails Minister Harjot Singh Bains on a surprise visit to Ludhiana Central Jail on Sunday. Gurmeet Singh

After an intelligence report from the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) warned the Punjab police of a “jailbreak” in a bid to release high-profile gangsters and militants, security has been tightened across prisons in Punjab on Monday. The MHA report pointed out that the mastermind behind this sinister design was Babbar Khalsa International’s sought-after terrorist Harvinder Singh Rinda, who is suspected to be operating out of Pakistan.

The Indian Express, citing the MHA letter that it had accessed, said that the “likely targets of execution could be Bathinda jail, Ferozepur jail, Amritsar jail or Ludhiana jail.”

This development comes amid gruesome killings of kabaddi player Sandeep Singh Nangal Ambian on March 14, and singer Sidhu Moosewala on May 29. Planning the attacks on foreign soil and getting them executed by a local gang is the modus operandi that is being adopted by the perpetrators of such crimes.

According to the IE report, the MHA letter directed to the Punjab DGP further stated that “Pakistan-based operative Harvinder Singh alias Rinda has hatched a jail break plan in Punjab in coming days to ensure release of some prominent gangsters and militants”.

“Besides utilising his Punjab-based cohorts, Rinda is also likely to rope in some jehadi elements in execution of the plan. The likely targets of execution could be Bathinda jail, Ferozepur jail, Amritsar jail or Ludhiana jail,” reads the letter, as reported by IE.

Rinda is a close aide of BKI chief Wadhawa Singh and is believed to have the protection of Pakistan’s ISI. It is claimed that Rinda fled to Pakistan via Nepal using fake passports. Rinda is also the main accused behind the attack in Nawanshahr Crime Investigating Agency building late last year.

After a surprise visit, Punjab Jails minister Harjot Singh Bains told The Indian Express that all efforts have been made to rid Punjab jails of mobile phones. “In 2.5 months of the AAP coming to power, we have recovered at least 1,000 mobile phones from jails. It is a record… Adequate security has been deployed across all jails in Punjab,” Bains said.

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