Harminder Singh Mantoo, the chief of Khalistan Liberation Front (KLF), had escaped from Nabha Jail on November 27, 2016, but was arrested the very next day at the border of Delhi and Haryana. It was a joint operation done by the police forces of Punjab and Delhi. The arrest was made at the Delhi Railway Station by Delhi Police, who were aided significantly by the inputs provided by Punjab Police. Incidentally, the head of KLF is also known to be a dreaded terrorist. It is expected that Mantoo will be brought back to Nabha by a team of Punjab Police officers.
What is KLF?
KLF is a well-known insurgent group and is an important part of the Khalistan Movement that wishes to create a homeland for Punjabis called ‘Khalistan’. It looks to achieve this mammoth errand through a well-planned armed struggle. There are plenty of loose units that are known to be part of KLF. The group was founded in 1986 by Sukhvinder Singh Babbar and Aroor Singh. Till date, the following individuals have led the group:
- Avtar Singh Brahma – killed on July 22, 1988, by Punjab Police
- Gurjant Singh Budhsinghwala – killed on July 29, 1992, by Indian security forces
- Navroop Singh – killed on August 4, 1992, by Punjab Police
- Kuldip Singh Keepa Shekhupura
- Navneet Singh Khadian – killed on February 25, 1994.
How was the escape staged?
It was on the morning of November 27 that Mintoo had made a suspicious call; the police had intercepted the call and every border post near Delhi and Haryana was put on high alert. It was later in the day that the high-security Nabha Jail was breached by men in police uniform wielding arms.
They started to fire indiscriminately and then fled with five prisoners that included Mintoo who has been accused in 10 cases. It is also stated that Mintoo had connections with Inter-Services Intelligence of Pakistan. It is being said that initially Mintoo was not a part of the escape plans of the armed assailants. He only became a part of it after he came to learn about them.
When was he arrested?
It was in 2014 that Mintoo was arrested from the Indira Gandhi International (IGI) Airport by Punjab Police. At the time, he was wanted for crimes such as the 2008 attacks on Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, the chief of Dera Sacha Sauda based in Sirsa. He had also allegedly placed explosives at the Halwara Air Force Station in 2010.
What happened after the jailbreak?
After the Nabha jailbreak happened, a meeting of senior officers had been called by Prakash Singh Badal, the Chief Minister of Punjab. This included Sarvesh Kaushal, the Chief Secretary as well. A high alert was also sounded in Punjab with security increased in and around places of public transport such as railway stations, interstate bus terminals, airports, etc. It was on the night of November 27 that Parminder Singh, the supposed mastermind of the escape, was arrested.
He was arrested at Kairana, Shamli, Uttar Pradesh when police stopped their getaway vehicle at a picket. Police found a self-loading rifle (SLR), many rounds of ammunition, and three rifles. The incident also led to the suspension of Director-General of Police (Jails) as well as Superintendent and Deputy-Superintendent of Nabha Jail. A special taskforce was also set up in order to investigate the incident. According to Sukhbir Singh Badal, the Deputy CM of Punjab, a manhunt has been started to nab the other escaped convicts.
Some major jailbreaks in India till date
Sher Singh Rana, who killed Phoolan Devi, escaped from Tihar Jail on February 17, 2004 with the help of his brother Vikram and an aide named Sandeep Thakur, who posed as a member of Delhi Armed Police force and escorted him on the basis of forged documents.
Jagtar Singh Hawara, who played a major role in the assassination of former Punjab CM Beant Singh, escaped Burail Jail after digging a tunnel that was eight feet deep and 108 feet long. He was aided by Jagtar Singh Tara, Devi Singh, and Paramjit Singh Bheora.
On August 12, 2002, eight criminals – charged with major crimes such as murder, abduction, and rape escaped from Bettiah Jail in Bihar using iron filer dipped in grease to saw off their bars and then scaling the outer walls.
Charles Shobhraj escaped from Tihar Jail on March 16, 1986 by drugging the inmates and jail officials and then allowed himself to be apprehended at a restaurant in Goa six months later. He did this so that he would not be extradited to Thailand where he was sure he would be hanged because of his crimes.
Natwarlal, perhaps the most famous conman in India, managed to escape from police custody while being transported to AIIMS for his feigned sickness. He was 84 years old at the time of his arrest.
Where is Nabha?
Cellular Jail – Andaman’s Colonial Legacy
Tihar Jail’s efforts to bring the best out of prisoners
Threat of Imprisonment for Wrong Depiction of India Map
Indians who died in Pakistani Prisons