India On Tenterhooks As Terrorism-Linked Extortion Hits Alarming Highs

(MENAFN- IANS) New Delhi, Dec 10 (IANS) In a disturbing development, security agencies across India are grappling with a surge in terrorism-linked extortion activities of domestic as well as international terror outfits.

This unsettling turn of events is posing a formidable challenge to law enforcement agencies and they have launched major collaborative efforts to fortify national security.

The menace unveiled: Extortion, violence, and terror funding.

Numerous regions in India are now witnessing an uptick in cases where terrorist and insurgent groups resort to extortion as a primary means to finance their operations. Intelligence reports reveal that businesses, local communities, and individuals are being targeted, with hefty sums being demanded as“protection money.”

The modus operandi involves a chilling combination of threats, kidnappings, and sporadic attacks aimed at instilling fear and ensuring compliance. Experts argue that these organisations are adapting to new fundraising methods and are steering away from traditional channels that are facing heightened scrutiny.

Canada-based gangster-turned-terrorist Arsh Dalla's network:

A recent revelation from the National Investigation Agency (NIA) underscores the gravity of the situation. The charge sheet points to Canada-based gangster-turned-terrorist Arshdeep Singh, alias Arsh Dalla, collaborating with Hardeep Singh Nijjar to provide targets, arrange weapons, and funnel terror funds through various channels, including extortion. This sinister collaboration aimed to strengthen the activities of the Khalistan Tiger Force (KTF).

“Arshdeep Singh, in association with Hardeep Singh Nijjar, who is also a designated terrorist, was facilitating the members of the terror gang by providing details of targets, arranging weapons, sending terror funds through various Money Transfer Service Schemes (MTSSs) and also raising funds through extortion to strengthen the terror activities of the KTF. The investigation has further revealed that the major part of the money extorted from the victims was channelised to Arsh in Canada through hawala operators,” stated the charge sheet.

“Investigations have revealed that Nijjar and Arsh lured people to commit terror acts in return for visas, jobs, and handsome earnings in Canada. Initially, they were motivated to threaten and extort money from businessmen in Punjab. Subsequently they were radicalised and motivated to carry out terrorist acts and killings of people of other faiths,” the charge sheet stated.

Extortion by Lawrence Bishnoi-Goldy Brar's terror network:

As per the NIA charge sheet submitted in court, the Lawrence Bishnoi terror syndicate's main activities involve kidnapping, murder, extortion for ransom, cross-border smuggling of sophisticated weapons and narcotics, in-land smuggling of contraband and illegal liquor.

The gangster didn't directly talk to any shooter, but routed the killers through his close associates, including Satinderjit Singh alias Goldy Brar and Anmol Bishnoi.

The NIA also said that its investigation has revealed that distribution of work used to be done with careful planning, and the gang members were assigned different tasks. The matters pertaining to funding were mostly decided by Lawrence Bishnoi, Goldy Brar, Jaggu Bhagwanpuria and Darmanjot Kahlon.

"Bishnoi was intentionally running the entire operations from jail. He was so adept in operating from inside the prison that he didn't apply for bail in any case. It is also revealed that a considerable part of money generated through extortion activities was sent to Canada, the US, Dubai, Thailand and Australia for the use of their associates/family members based abroad and also for funding the activities of pro-Khalistan extremists," the charge sheet read.

Cracking down on networks: Delhi Police's major victory.

In a significant triumph for security agencies, the Special Cell of the Delhi Police recently apprehended five sharpshooters associated with Arsh Dalla. The men were tasked with carrying out violent acts at the behest of their paymasters. The operation in which the men were caught, involved a dramatic gun battle, resulting in the arrest of Rajpreet Singh, Virender Singh, Sachin Bhati, Arpit Dhankar and Susheel Pradhan.

The accused were allegedly assigned to target Kavinder Kumar, a resident of Haridwar and a local BJP leader, for refusing to pay extortion money.

In August this year, the Delhi Police's Special Cell had busted an arms trafficking network spread across Dubai, Pakistan, Nepal, and India with the arrest of three men.

This network was allegedly used by the Lawrence Bishnoi gang to procure weapons used in the assassination of famous Punjabi singer Shubhdeep Singh a.k.a Sidhu Moose Wala last year in May.

Police had recovered 12 semi-automatic pistols, including Zigana, Beretta, and Slovakian pistols, Nepalese currency, a SIM card from Nepal, and a specialised iron box used for trafficking guns, from the possession of the accused.

Sources said that the Pakistan-based members of this module, who were connected with Khalistani separatists, after taking the order, would supply weapons by air cargo to Nepal in a concealed iron box specially designed for the purpose.

“Once the consignment reached Nepal, the same would be taken out easily by the members of this module, as the custom officials of Nepal were compromised by them," said Delhi Police sources.

Regional hotspots, Northeastern states bear the brunt:

In addition to the national Capital, cases of extortion and illegal tax collection by insurgent groups have seen a dramatic surge in the Northeast, particularly in Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland along the India-Myanmar border.

According to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) report, in 2022, in the northeast 29 cases of extortion by insurgent groups were reported.

“Out of 29 cases, 24 were reported from Arunachal Pradesh and four from Nagaland. In the northeast, 22 attacks were reported on economic establishments by the insurgent groups,” the NCRB report reveals.

(Shekhar Singh can be reached at ...)




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