Following a strong follow-up by the Indian government, aided by Punjab Police, a Hong Kong court on Tuesday ordered the extradition of a resident wanted for his alleged involvement in a car theft and the Nabha jailbreak three years ago.
The Centre managed to ensure “provisional arrest” of Nabha jailbreak mastermind Ramanjit Singh Romi in Hong Kong. He was wanted by Interpol for his alleged role in terrorist activities and targeted killings in Punjab.
An intelligence wing team of Punjab Police led by AIG Gurmeet Chauhan and SP Harvinder Virk had been pursuing the case with the Centre and the Hong Kong court for the past three years.
Magistrate Pang Leung-ting of the Eastern Court ruled in favour of the Indian government and ordered Romi’s extradition to India.
Romi had contested the order committing him to custody by challenging the evidence against him and arguing that his prosecution was “merely a smokescreen for persecuting him as a young Sikh in support of a separatist movement”.
The 30-year-old had engaged a separate team of lawyers against his extradition on the grounds that he was allegedly tortured in India. The Indian government had demanded Singh’s surrender in two criminal cases in 2016 which, they said, was the equivalent of 28 serious offences in Hong Kong.
Sources say Romi’s interrogation is also needed in the context of his alleged links with some of the campaigners of Referendum 2020.
Romi had fled India in 2016 after he managed to get bail in an Arms Act case by allegedly bribing the cops.
Indian security agencies recently established a link between referendum campaigners, radicals in Germany, the UK and Canada, some gangsters operating in Punjab and the ISI by tracking online activities of the prime supporters of the separatist movement.
“We believe Romi fits in this bracket as he is closely linked to the ISI, some radical elements and gangsters,” said a top official.
According to the state police, Romi was in touch with UK national Jagtar Singh Johal, alias Jaggi, one of the key conspirators in targeted killings in Punjab. The duo was in touch with Harmeet Singh, alias PHD, a KLF terrorist based in Pakistan.
“Paramjit Singh Pamma, involved in bomb explosions and the murder of Rulda Singh, is also involved in the 2020 campaign, while Romi was in touch with Johal,” said a top official.
Romi was charged with a HK$32.6-million robbery in Hong Kong in February, but the prosecutors withdrew the charges recently, paving the way for his extradition to India.
The state police have prepared a 1,200-page dossier to ensure that they get Romi’s custody.
Romi was allegedly the pointsman for coordination between state gangsters and terrorists. After gangsters Vicky Gounder and Prema Lahoria were killed in an encounter, Punjab DGP Suresh Arora had said Romi had helped Gounder procure an assault rifle and that he was the mastermind behind the Nabha jailbreak as he funded gangsters in Punjab.
His role is under the scanner in the infamous Nabha jailbreak in which the jail was attacked to free four gangsters and two terrorists.