Though a local court on Tuesday granted bail to BKI terrorist Jagtar Singh Tara in the infamous Burail jail-break case, he was sent to jail as he is wanted in several criminal cases including the assassination of former chief minister of Punjab Beant Singh.
Dismissing UT police’s application seeking 14-day custodial interrogation, judicial magistrate Harpreet Kaur allowed bail application moved on behalf of Tara granting him bail against bail bonds of Rs 1 lakh and two sureties. The police were however granted time to complete formalities of arresting Tara who was brought from Patiala jail on production warrants.
“The court had already dropped charges of sedition against all the accused in the jail-break case. Thus, the only charge against Tara is under Section 224 (escapes from lawful detention) of the Indian Penal Code, which is a bailable offence. The application of the UT police seeking remand for a bailable offence is completely illegal,”said advocate AS Chahal, who appeared for Tara while pressing for bail.
UT police’s arguments that the charge of waging war still stands against Tara, who was recently apprehended in Thailand by central intelligence agencies, failed to hold ground.
Tara, who was facing trial for assassinating former CM of Punjab, Beant Singh, had escaped along with three others after digging about 109-feet-long tunnel inside the jail in January, 2004. Two escapees Jagtar Singh Hawara and Paramjeet Singh Bheroa had earlier been arrested, while Dev Singh, aka Devi, the third, is still at large.
The UT police had sought custodial interrogation as they wanted to question him about those who had assisted him during and post his escape from the jail.
Tara was brought to district courts complex-43 at around 11 am under tight police security. He was remanded in judicial custody to Model Burail jail at around 4:30 pm.
Tara cannot be moved out of Burail jail
The UT administration through a notification issued under Section 268 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) imposed on Jagtar Singh Tara, who is one of the major accused in Beant Singh’s assassination, prohibited his removal from Burail jail till the completion of his trial.
Cases against Tara
Beant Singh assassination case, in which Hawara, Bheora and some others were sentenced to life imprisonment in 2007, will start again.
Also, a fresh chargesheet will be filed in the jailbreak case in which the verdict against all the accused, except Devi Singh, Tara and Gurwinder Singh Goldy, is expected soon.
Tara had floated a company and was to move to Germany
Before dismissing the plea for custodial interrogation, the court had allowed a team from operations cell to question Tara in the court premises. As per sources, Tara disclosed that he had made a fake AKM company in Thailand and was scheduled to flee to Germany to meet another terrorist Resham Singh on the pretext of this company.
Tara transported secretly from Patiala to Chandigarh
Tara has been silently transported to Model Burail Jail from Patiala Central Jail before he was produced in a local court on Tuesday. The court had directed police to produce him on February 23 but he was brought to Chandigarh earlier because of security concerns.
The decision of transporting Tara before his scheduled time to appear in the court was taken to maintain secrecy of the proceedings.
Chandigarh police taken by surprise
Chandigarh Police was surprised to see Jagtar Singh Tara at Burail Jail on Tuesday morning. He was brought to the jail at around 11 am by the Punjab police. A Punjab police official told the police that they had received orders from superiors to shift Tara from Patiala Central Jail to Model Jail.
The officials, on reaching Burail Jail, said they would need court orders to take Tara’s custody.
Beant Singh’s assassin Jagtar Singh Tara nabbed in Thailand
NEW DELHI: Almost 10 years after he fled from Chandigarh’s Burail Model jail along with three prisoners by digging a tunnel, Khalistani militant Jagtar Singh ‘Tara’ — involved in the assassination of former Punjab chief minister Beant Singh, was arrested by the authorities in Thailand.
Tara was reportedly hiding in Pakistan for several years before going to Thailand recently and was being provided shelter with the help of Pakistan’s Inter-Services-Intelligence (ISI), said sources. Officials say that Indian agencies, Thai police and Interpol tracked Tara in Thailand and arrested him in Chonburi province in Pattaya.
Tara was member of militant group Babbar Khalsa International at the time of the assassination of Beant Singh, but later he joined Khalistan Tiger Force (KTF).
CBI officials said on Friday they will approach MEA and other authorities for Jagtar Singh Tara’s extradition from Thailand. Tara, aged around 37 years now, was already convicted along with six other militants for the assassination of the then CM in 1995 and was given a life sentence in 2007, three years after he fled from the jail.
While Lakhwinder Singh, Shamsher Singh and Gurmeet Singh are serving life sentence in Burail Jail, their accomplices in the 1995 assassination of the then Punjab CM, militants Jagtar Singh Hawara and Paramjeet Singh Bheora, are lodged in Tihar jail.
The swift action followed a recent request by minister of state for home Kiren Rijiju to the Thai authorities to help capture the militant. Rijiju made the request when he visited Bangkok late last year for a UN meet.
Before Tara’s arrest, Badal sought release of 5 convicts
NEW DELHI: Barely a month before Jagtar Singh Tara, an absconding accused in Beant Singh murder case, was nabbed in Thailand, Punjab CM Parkash Singh Badal wrote to Delhi LG Najeeb Jung and Chandigarh administrator Shivraj Patil seeking the release five life-term convicts in the case, from Tihar Jail and Burail jail (Chandigarh) respectively.
Incidentally, Badal had earlier lobbied with the home ministry as well as then President Pratibha Patil for granting clemency to Balwant Singh Rajoana, death row convict in the case.
Apart from seeking the release of five Beant Singh murder case convicts, Badal wrote to the chief ministers of Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, West Bengal, Karnataka and Gujarat, to set free 8 other life-term terror convicts lodged in their respective prisons. These include Waryam Singh lodged in Bareilly jail in a terror case of UP; Gurmeet Singh Fauji serving life sentence in a Rajasthan jail; Daya Singh Lahoria who is in Tihar Jail in connection with a West Bengal case; Gurdeep Singh Khaira who is in Gulbarga Jail in connection with a bomb blast case in Bidar (Karnataka); Lal Singh Akalgarh lodged in Naba jail in a terror case relating to Gujarat; and Subeg Singh and Nand Singh serving sentence in Chandigarh jail.
A simultaneous request for the release of these 13 prisoners was also sent by the Shiromani Gurudwara Prabhandhak Committee (SGPC) to the home ministry. The Central security establishment, however, is wary of taking a sympathetic view of requests that seek release of hardened terrorists on “humanitarian” grounds.
Badal’s appeal for release of life-term terror convicts coincided with former Sikh militant Gurbax Singh Khalsa’s indefinite hunger strike at a gurdwara in Ambala, Haryana, since November 14 last year to press for the release of seven Sikh militants: Lakhwinder Singh, Shamsher Singh, Gurmeet Singh, Lal Singh Akalgarh, Waryam Singh, Gurdeep Singh Khaira and Davinder Pal Singh Bhullar.
Incidentally, a similar hunger strike by Khalsa at Mohali gurdwara in 2013 had led the Punjab government to grant 28-day parole to Lakhwinder Singh, Shamsher Singh and Gurmeet Singh, and he extracted an assurance from Akal Takht jathedar that he would take up the matter with the government.
Central agencies are concerned over the campaign for release of Sikh militants on “humanitarian” grounds, and are said to have briefed home minister Rajnath Singh on the issue.
This old police file photo accessed by TOI shows Jagtar Singh Tara, Beant Singh’s assassin
The Indian government had been in touch with the Thai authorities to nab Singh, who had been hiding in Thailand for months and probably under another identity.
Beant Singh, who came to power as chief minister of Punjab in 1992 and began crushing the Sikh militancy, was killed in a blast, triggered by the Khalistani militants.
Tara had escaped from jail in 2004 along with Jagtar Singh Hawara, Paramjit Singh Bheora and Dev Singh.
Hawara and Bheora were later arrested but Tara and Dev Singh reportedly fled to Pakistan. Dev Singh is said to be still living in Pakistan. Tara left for Thailand after hiding in Pakistan for many years.