Ex-Punjab CM Beant Singh's killer arrested in Thailand

Tuesday 06th January 2015 05:00 EST

Bangkok: Thai police have arrested a fugitive Sikh terrorist who was involved in the assassination of former Punjab chief minister Beant Singh and several others in 1995. Thai National police spokesman Lt Gen Prawut Thawornsiri said 37-year-old Gurmeet Singh entered Thailand in October and was arrested in the eastern province of Chon Buri on Monday.

A team of Chon Buri provincial police and soldiers raided a house on Soi Mabyailia in tambon Nong Phreu in Bang Lamung district and arrested Singh, one of six Sikh militants convicted for the 1995 blast which also killed several others. Officers also arrested Pakistani national Ali Alat, 48, the owner of the house. Alat said that he was not aware about Singh's criminal background. The two men were taken to Nong Phreu police station for interrogation.

"We had been following him for a while, but at one point he slipped off the radar," Prawut said. Sources here said that Singh could have been travelling on a fake passport as the police said the "Pakistani" terrorist faces extradition to India. Singh escaped from a high-security prison in 2004. The swift action followed a recent request by minister of state for home Kiren Rijiju to Thai authorities to help capture the terrorist. Rijiju made the request when he visited Bangkok late last year for a UN meet.

Last week the national police chief had announced that a special unit would be set up to target transnational criminal gangs operating in Thailand or using the country as a shelter. Some foreign criminals and gangs consider Thailand to be a haven, including paedophiles, financial con men, electronic card skimmers, robbers, drug traffickers and terrorists.

Pol Maj Gen Nitipong Niamnoi, head of Chon Buri police, said Indian authorities had sought cooperation from Thailand, to help apprehend the suspect. The Indian government had been in touch with Thai authorities to nab Jagtar "Tara" Singh, who had been hiding in Thailand for months and probably under another identity.

Beant Singh, who came to power as chief minister in 1992 and began crushing the Sikh militancy, was killed in the blast in 1995 claimed by the Khalistani Sikh terrorists.

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