Isoc on high alert for Indian terrorist

Isoc on high alert for Indian terrorist

Bomber thought to be en route to Malaysia

Security officials at the border checkpoint in Narathiwat's Sungai Kolok district have been put on alert following reports that a key Indian terrorist who broke out of jail 10 years ago has fled to Thailand and may try to sneak across the southern border into Malaysia.

Jagtar Singh Tara, a wanted Sikh terrorist leader, is involved in India's so-called Khalistan movement, which uses terrorism to try to create a separate Sikh homeland called Khalistan in the Punjab region of South Asia. (File photo)

Col Jataporn Kalumpasut, deputy secretary-general of the Internal Security Operations Command (Isoc) Region 4's Forward Command, said yesterday he had instructed officials manning the border checkpoint to be on the lookout.

The information about the terrorist, Jagtar Singh Tara, who had been convicted for his involvement in a 1995 bombing that killed 18 people in Punjab, was believed to have been conveyed to Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwon by Indian government officials during a recent meeting.

Jagtar is known as the leader of Khalistan Tiger Force (KTF), one of the Khalistan terrorist groups operating in India and Pakistan.

He reportedly supplied the car used in the deadly bombing against the then-chief minister of Punjab, Beant Singh, who was killed in the suicide attack along with 17 others, including a number of commandos and VIPs.

Jagtar was a key figure, among several extremists, in plotting the mission.   

This computer-generated photo shows what Singh might look like if he tries to shave, cut his hair and remove his turban. Photos and alerts were distributed to border authorities in the South on Monday.

Jagtar and the other masterminds were later arrested and imprisoned in the high-security Burail jail in Chandigarh.

But three of them, including Jagtar, escaped through a long underground tunnel in 2004.

Indian media recently reported that radical groups, backed by Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), had held a secret meeting and jointly resolved to revive terror strikes in Punjab.

They have reportedly started recruiting young men to join the extremists.

The move has been closely monitored by the Indian government following intelligence reports that Sikh militant groups plan to launch the attacks in Punjab and other locations in India.

Col Jataporn said security officials believed Jagtar might be posing as a tourist as he seeks entry to Pakistan by passing through Thailand's Sungai-Kolok district and Malaysia.

Speaking while inspecting a Sungai-Kolok checkpoint, Pol Col Abdulkodey Baunaesa Teng, a superintendent at the Immigration Bureau, said he had ordered officials to impose more stringent security measures.

He said they will closely monitor travellers who pass through the checkpoint.

Pol Col Abdulkodey said he has distributed copies of Jagtar's photos to security officials.

Meanwhile, Deputy Education Minister Surachet Chaiyawong met yesterday with educational personnel in Yala yesterday to discuss preparations for the new school semester, which begins on Nov 4.

The meeting was also attended by the 4th Army's representative Maj Noppawong Surawichai, Yala Special Task Force Commander Maj Somsak Ninbunjerdkul, acting Yala governor Samart Waradisai, inspector-general of the Ministry of Education Adinun Pakbara and local education zones' staff members.

Col Surachet also inspected temporary classrooms for students in Thung Yang Daeng and Mayo districts.

Five primary schools in Thung Yang Daeng and one in Mayo district were set ablaze by insurgents in coordinated attacks on Oct 12.

The buildings were mostly destroyed, but no one was injured in the overnight arson attacks.

The deputy minister said he had instructed Isoc officers to step up measures to help protect teachers and students in the South.

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