Sikh militant commander recaptured after jailbreak
A TOP Sikh militant commander was recaptured by police in the Indian capital Delhi yesterday, a day after he was freed in a dramatic jailbreak by a gang wearing police uniforms.
Harminder Singh Mintoo, who heads a Sikh separatist group, was arrested on the outskirts of Delhi some 200 kilometres from the high-security prison in Punjab where he had been remanded on terror charges.
Four other inmates who also escaped during the breakout – members of a local criminal gang jailed for murder – are still at large, AS Chahal, a senior local police official, said.
Mr Mintoo, leader of the Khalistan Liberation Force (KLF), a militant group fighting for a Sikh homeland in Punjab, was in jail awaiting trial for terrorism offences.
He was freed in an early morning raid on November 27 by at least 10 armed men wearing police uniforms. They stabbed one guard and opened fire before fleeing with the prisoners in cars. Three policemen were injured in the assault, which prompted a massive hunt for the fugitives.
A woman was killed on a highway a few miles from the prison when police opened fire on her car after the driver allegedly failed to stop at a checkpoint.
Police later said she had no connection with the escapees. Three top prison officers were sacked or suspended following the jailbreak.
This was the second major prison break in India in less than a month.
In October eight Islamist militants escaped from a jail in central Madhya Pradesh state. They were gunned down hours later in a shootout.
The Sikh separatist insurgency in Punjab largely waned in the late 90s, but several groups remain committed to the Khalistan movement and dozens of alleged Sikh militants are in prison. –