The National Investigation Agency (NIA) launched a widespread operation on Wednesday, carrying out searches at more than 100 locations across six states including Haryana, Punjab, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, and Madhya Pradesh. These searches were conducted as part of investigations into cases involving the nexus between terrorism, narcotics smuggling, and gangsters.
In a joint effort with state police forces, the anti-terror agency began the raids early in the day, targeting premises and other locations associated with the suspects. The operation is still ongoing.
These raids are directly linked to three separate cases registered by the NIA last year under the names RC 37, 38, and 39/2022/NIA/DLI. One of the cases, RC-37/2022/NIA/DLI, led to the arrest of Deepak Ranga on January 25 this year.
Ranga, a close associate of Canada-based gangster-turned-terrorist Lakhbir Singh Sandhu alias Landa and Pakistan-based gangster-turned-terrorist Harvinder Singh Sandhu alias Rinda, was identified as the main shooter in the RPG attack on Punjab Police Intelligence Headquarters in Mohali in May 2022. Apart from his involvement in the RPG attack, Ranga has been implicated in numerous violent terrorist and criminal offences, including murder. He has been actively receiving terror funds and logistical support from Rinda and Landa.
The NIA initiated the case suo moto on September 20, 2022, after uncovering a network of terrorist outfits and elements collaborating with organized criminal gangs in northern states of the country. The objective of this alliance was to carry out targeted killings and other violent criminal activities.
It was also revealed that the terror-gangster-drug smuggler network was involved in the cross-border smuggling of terrorist hardware such as arms, ammunition, explosives, and IEDs. This illegal trade was facilitated by a widespread inter-state network of gun runners, illegal arms and ammunition manufacturers, suppliers, and explosive traffickers.
Since the registration of the three criminal cases related to the terror-gangster-drug smuggler network, the NIA has made significant progress. Nineteen leaders and members of various organized criminal gangs, two arms suppliers, and one major financier connected to the network have been arrested under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.
Furthermore, Canada-based Arsh Dalla was designated as an ‘individual terrorist’ by the Ministry of Home Affairs on January 9 this year.