Most-wanted terrorist dies of drug overdose in Pakistan: agencies

Harvinder Singh Sandhu alias Rindaa most-wanted terrorist carrying a reward of Rs 10 lakh announced by the National Investigation Agency, is learned to have died at a hospital in Pakistan’s Lahore, multiple sources in state and central intelligence agencies said Saturday.

A senior Punjab Police official and one from a central agency told The Sunday Express that Rinda, who was under the protection of Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) and had carried out several terrorist acts in India, was being treated for a kidney ailment probably triggered by drug overdose.

Rinda was named as the mastermind behind the RPG attack on Punjab Police’s Intelligence headquarters at Mohali in May this year and the grenade attack at state police’s Crime Investigating Agency (CIA) building in Nawanshahr last year in November. He was named in over two dozen criminal cases and apart from Punjab he was wanted in Maharashtra, Chandigarh, Haryana and West Bengal. He carried a reward of Rs 10 lakh announced by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) for any information about him. The Interpol had issued a Red notice against Rinda in June this year.

“We have learned that Rinda died due to drug overdose,” a senior Punjab Police official said.

A senior central agency official, requesting not to be named, said that Rinda was “suffering from a kidney problem and was admitted to hospital.” The official added, “Information is also trickling in that Rinda died due to drug overdose, which is likely to have caused the kidney problem”.

Meanwhile, two government run hospitals in Lahore — Jinnah Hospital and Services Hospital — denied any such death in the last two days. There were reports in a section of media that Rinda died at a military hospital in Lahore. When contacted, a Combined Military Hospital (CMC) official, requesting not to be named, told The Sunday Express that “a 33-year-old man named Mohammad Usmaan died of drug overdose.” The official said there was no person named Rinda who died in the hospital in the past two days.

A senior Punjab Police Official, however, said that they were taking the latest “development with a pinch of salt”.

“In the past, there were reports that Pakistan-based terrorist Harmeet Singh PhD had died. Six months later, we realized he was very much alive as we analyzed his activities and call details. He died sometime later,” the official said.

Rinda, a member of the banned Khalistani outfit Babbar Khalsa International, had been taking the help of local gangsters to carry out anti-national activities in India, especially Punjab. He was seen as the main link between gangsters and Pakistani-based terror groups.

As per the latest dossier maintained by Punjab Police, mentioning his involvement RPG attack at Intelligence headquarters, Rinda is son of Charat Singh Sandhu, originally a resident of Nanded Sahib in Maharashtra where he had “migrated to from village Sarhali in Punjab’s Tarn Taran many years ago”.

“He is most wanted A+ category gangster of Punjab. Besides this, he is also involved and wanted in many cases by police forces of Maharashtra, Chandigarh, Haryana and West Bengal,” read the dossier accessed by The Sunday Express.

The dossier cites information harvested from various channels and sources to cite his “direct links with Pakistan-based terrorist groups”, and his “involvement in large scale cross-border smuggling of drugs and weapons”. “Rinda is a threat to national security” and is currently “suspected to be living in Pakistan”, it further read. A look out circular (LoC) was issued against Rinda on August 18, 2017 and a red corner notice request against him was sent to the Central Bureau of Investigation by Punjab Bureau of Investigation on May 5, this year, four days before the RPG attack took place at Punjab Police Intelligence headquarters in Mohali. Another dossier accessed by The Sunday Express states that Rinda was associated with Babbar Khalsa International (BKI) international chief Wadhawa Singh Babbar, based in Pakistan, to carry out terror acts in Punjab.

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