As part of the ongoing crackdown against the Canada-based criminal elements operating against India, the Punjab Police on Monday raided 48 places linked to associates of terrorist Lakhbir Singh Sandhu alias Lakhbir Landa.
The police action comes in a case related to an attack on a trader last week, who had complained that he got a call for a demand of Rs 15 lakh.
Landa is understood to be based in Edmonton in Alberta province of Canada. The National Investigation Agency (NIA) has a reward of Rs 15 lakh for information leading to his capture. He is a native of Punjab's Tarn Taran.
Superintendent of Police Randhir Kumar told PTI that separate police teams conducted raids in Makhu, Zira, Guruharsahai, and other places and some people were also arrested.
Landa's name had figured in connection with the rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) attack at Sarhali Police Station in Punjab's Tarn Taran. It is in this case that he is wanted by the NIA. He is being treated as an absconder.
"The NIA registered the case in 2022 after it emerged that terrorist outfits and terror elements based abroad were operating in tandem with leaders and members of organised criminal gangs operating in northern states of the country to commit targeted killings and violent criminal acts," reported The Tribune.
Canada has emerged as a safe haven for the Khalistan movement and organised crime syndicates engaged in anti-India activities. Several terrorists and gangsters such as Landa, Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, Goldy Brar, and Arsh Dala are based in the country and are engaged in plotting and executing nefarious designs in India.
The death of one such designated terrorist, Hardeep Singh Nijjar, is at the centre of worsening India-Canada relations. Nijjar, the chief of designated terrorist organisation Khalistan Tiger Force (KTF), was killed in June in Canada's British Columbia province by unidentified assailants. Last week, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau claimed that there were "credible allegations of a potential link" of the Indian government with the killing of Nijjar. India has forcefully rejected the claim.
Following the claim, the Canadian government expelled a senior Indian diplomat posted in Canada and outed him as an Indian intelligence official. In a tit for tat reaction, the Indian government also expelled a Canadian diplomat posted in India understood to be from the Canadian intelligence agency. India also suspended visa services for Canadians and ordered the downsizing of Canadian mission in India.
For a long time, the India-Canada relations have been strained over the safe haven that the Khalistan movement, Khalistani terrorists, and organised crime syndicates have found in the country. The Khalistan movement seeks to carve out a separate nation for Sikhs out of India called Khalistan. The movement waged a bloody insurgency in India for decades and finally ebbed in the 1990s. While the movement ebbed in the 1990s, it has found strong pockets of influence abroad, particularly in Canada, from where it has continued to indulge in anti-India activities.
Punjab has been a particular focus of these terrorist-gangster nexus. Several attacks such as killings and blasts have been associated with the terrorist-gangster-drug smuggler nexus based in Canada.