Three suspected members of a Sikh extremist group on Interpol's Red Notice watchlist were arrested during a joint operation by the Philippine government agencies this month, according to an official.
Officers from the Philippine Bureau of Immigration, the Cybercrime Investigation and Coordinating Center (CICC) and the Military Intelligence Group arrested suspected members of the Sikh extremist group - all Indian nationals in their 20s - in the central Philippine city of Iloilo during a joint operation, CICC Executive Director Alexander Ramos said on Monday.
Ramos said in a statement that the heavily armed troops stormed an apartment in an exclusive subdivision in the city at dawn on March 7 and caught the militants off guard, state-run Philippine News Agency reported.
"The well-coordinated lightning strike by operatives caught members of the militant group flatfooted and (they) did not attempt to resist the heavily armed troops,” Ramos was quoted as saying by the news agency.
The suspects were identified as Manpreet Singh, Amritpal Singh and Arshdeep Singh, it said.
According to media reports, the trio belonged to the banned Khalistan Tiger Force (KTF).
The suspects - who are also on the Interpol Red Notice watchlist - entered the country using fake passports. They evaded detection until they were tracked down by experts from the CICC. They will face charges of murder, violation of the Explosive Substances Act 2001, and the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act 1967 of India.
Ramos attributed the operation's success to the "proper and speedy" coordination between the government agencies involved through the National Cybercrime Hub established at the Bonifacio Global City in Taguig.
“The President will not tolerate any foreign terrorist to set foot in the country,” he said.
The suspects are also being probed for their alleged ties to the Jammu and Kashmir Ghaznavi Force (JKGF), another terror group that has been banned by the Indian government under the anti-terror law, it said.
The JKGF has been involved in infiltration bids, narcotics and weapon smuggling, and terror attacks in Jammu and Kashmir.
The development comes amidst a crackdown by the Punjab Police on radical preacher Amritpal Singh, the chief of the radical outfit 'Waris Punjab De'.
India last month banned the JKGF, which has been formed with cadres from terrorist organisations such as the Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed; and the Khalistan Tiger Force (KTF), which aims to revive terrorism in Punjab.
The KTF came into existence in 2011 as an offshoot of Babbar Khalsa International, a proscribed terrorist organisation under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA).
The KTF is a militant outfit and it aims to revive terrorism in Punjab with a view to achieving its agenda of the formation of a separate state of Khalistan and thereby challenging the territorial integrity, unity, national security and sovereignty of India.
Though recent developments are stoking fears of a return to the violence that occurred decades ago, the Khalistan movement does not have much support within India, said Delhi-based counterterrorism expert Ajai Sahni.
Sahni said Khalistan supporters are most active in Canada and the UK, but they also have a presence in the US, across Europe, and even in Malaysia and the Philippines.
“At present, the overwhelming support is from outside, from Sikh extremist diaspora communities,” Sahni told Arab News. “The movement is not securing very much traction on the ground in India.”
Image courtesy: Representative image/The Indian Express