Police and military officers raided an East Pattaya house, apprehending a fugitive Sikh terrorist convicted for masterminding a 1995 bombing that killed 18 people, including the chief minister of a northern India state.
Jagtar Singh Tara – who entered Thailand using a Pakistani passport bearing the name of co-conspirator Gurmeet Singh – was captured Monday evening on Soi Mabyalia. Also taken into custody was Khalat Bari, 48, a Pakistani who police identified to Thai media as “Ali Alat.”
Wanted Pakistani terrorist Jagtar Singh Tara has been arrested in Pattaya and will be deported to India to serve his sentence for murder.
While Bari insisted he knew nothing of Tara’s nefarious past, Indian media reported Jan. 6 that he was sheltering the Khalistan Tiger Force separatist-group leader at the behest of Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence, and is, in fact, the brother of an ISI intelligence agent.
Tara, 37, was convicted and sentenced to life in prison in 1996 for his role in arranging a suicide bomber to kill then-Punjab state chief minister Beant Singh on Aug. 31, 1995. The explosion outside the civil secretariat tore the minister’s car and two escort vehicles to pieces, with the blast and its resulting shrapnel killing another 17 people.
Beant – a Sikh himself – had been targeted for allegedly directing a ruthless and controversial campaign against Sikh separatists in the state.
Tara and three of his fellow bombers tunneled out of a maximum-security prison in Chandigarh in 2004. Two were recaptured, one is living in Pakistan and Singh has been on the run since. Both Thai and Indian sources confirmed he’d been in Thailand since at least October, if not earlier.
Thai officials said he entered Thailand using the name of Gurmeet Singh, who was imprisoned with Tara at Burail Model Jail. But the 42-year-old never escaped and was, in fact, released on parole in December 2013 after serving 18 years in prison.
Indian media reported that Punjab police spent three weeks in Thailand in September, but Singh disappeared, only to resurface in Pattaya at the end of the year.
Bari told police Singh approached him on Jan. 1, telling him that he needed a place to stay for several days while he arranged to get his passport renewed. Bari told police he offered 30,000 baht rent for the house near Siam Country Club.
Acting on information provided by Indian officials, police and soldiers raided the house, holding Tara on immigration charges until he can be extradited to India. Bari was charged with harboring a fugitive.
“It took quite some time to arrest him. We had been following him for a while, but at one point he slipped off the radar,” national police spokesman Pol. Lt. Gen Prawut Thawornsiri told The Associated Press.
An Indian government official told the AP his government was aware of the arrest and was in touch with Thai authorities.
“All those who have committed heinous crimes in India will be pursued wherever they are,’’ said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter.