2 held for killing religious leaders, Dera follower

Chandigarh (PTI): The Punjab police on Wednesday claimed to have arrested two persons who were allegedly involved in killing three persons, including two religious leaders. Ashok Kumar Vohra alias Amna Seth and Lovepreet Singh alias Lovely have been arrested, they said. With their arrest, the police claimed to have solved the long pending cases of murder of two religious leaders — Paras Mani and Baba Lakha Singh — and a Dera Sacha Sauda follower Gurdev Singh.

According to a police spokesperson, the duo was nabbed by the Counter-Intelligence team of the Punjab Police after a hot chase at a police check-point near Sodhi Nagar today.

A .32 bore revolver and a motorcycle besides some radical literature and writings have been seized from their possession.

Subsequent inquiries revealed that the duo were involved in three murders that took place between 2014 and 2016, he said.

While 29-year-old Mani, the head of Dera Baba Farid at Khukhrana village in Moga district, was gunned down in June 2014, Baba Lakha Singh alias Lakhwinder Singh alias Pakhandi Baba, a religious preacher, was killed by the suspects in Hanumangarh district of Rajasthan on November 23, 2016.

They were also involved in the killing of Gurdev Singh (31), a Dera Sacha Sauda follower, in village Burj Jawahar Singh Wala in Faridkot district on June 13, 2016.

The spokesman said that Vohra came on the police’s radar for the first time after Mani’s killing.

Mani was shot dead by two persons on the Dera premises, situated on the Moga-Ferozepur highway, at around 6 p.m. on the fateful day.

Investigations had revealed that one Gurpreet Singh alias Gopi was also involved in the sensational shootout along with Vohra.

While Gurpreet was arrested in a police operation in Kohala village in Ferozepur last month, Vohra had managed to give the police a slip by escaping under the cover of darkness.

A massive manhunt had been underway since then to apprehend him. His photograph and his personal details had been publiciced by the police through the media and on social media platforms.

The spokesperson said preliminary investigations revealed that the duo was “highly radicalised killers” and were indulging in “targeted” killings.

He said both Vohra and Lovepreet were trying to flee Punjab when they were apprehended. Further investigations are in progress, he added.