Two suspected members of the banned terrorist group Babbar Khalsa International have been arrested following a brief exchange of fire in northwest Delhi, police said on Monday.
The duo were planning targeted killings in various north Indian states on the directions of Khalistan movement leaders sponsored by Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence, they said.
Seven pistols with 45 cartridges were recovered from their possession.
The police have also recovered two Android phones containing incriminating videos and photographs related to Khalistan movement and their propagators, police said.
The accused have been identified as Bhupender alias Dilawar Singh, 41, and Kulwant Singh, 39, both residents of Ludhiana, the police said, adding that they were also wanted in some cases in Punjab.
Deputy Commissioner of Police (Special Cell) Sanjeev Kumar Yadav said, "The arrested duo are hardcore supporters of Khalistan movement and were planning to execute targeted killings in various states of northern India on the directions of Pakistan ISI sponsored Khalistani leaders."
The officer said Bhupender is a member of two pro-Pakistan related public groups -- 'Pakistan Zindabad Khalistan Zindabad' and 'Defenders of Pakistan'.
Two letters of Babbar Khalsa International, remembering and praising Dilawar Singh Babbar, who assassinated former Punjab Chief Minister Beant Singh, have also been recovered from his mobile phone.
The officer added that Bhupender is very active on Facebook and shared high radical contents and videos related to Khalistan movement and Sutlej-Yamuna Link canal (SYL) issue on his social media account.
According to the senior officer, the special cell of Delhi Police nabbed Bhupender and his associate Kulwant on Saturday night after they received information that the duo had come to Delhi in a car to receive a huge cache of arms and ammunition.
"Our teams laid a trap near an underpass on Burari-Majlis Park road.
"On Saturday, around 11 pm, when the duo were spotted in their vehicle, they were overpowered after a brief exchange of fire," he said.
"During interrogation, Bhupinder told police that in 2016, he went to Saudi Arabia to work as a driver but after nearly eight months, when he did not find any job, he started spending more time on Facebook where he came in contact with several Khalistani activists and later joined their movement," he said.
The senior officer said through Facebook, Bhupinder came in contact with Harbinder Singh, Amritpal Kaur, Randeep Singh and Jarnail Singh, who were arrested by Punjab Police in 2017 for being members of Babbar Khalsa International, and were allegedly being financed by Khalistan movement sympathizers in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and the United Kingdom.
They had formed a group 'Khalistan Zindabad' and were planning to raise a new militant outfit -- 'Jatha Veer Khalsa' -- on the anniversary of 'Operation Bluestar', he said.
They planned to kill senior leaders who were involved in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots cases, he said.
"He further said his original name is Bhupinder Singh but since he was inspired by Dilawar Singh Babbar, he adopted an alias -- Dilawar Singh.
"He revealed that he has strong feeling for the 'Kaum' (community) and has dislike for people speaking against Sikh gurus and religion.
"He told the police that he also has strong objection against SYL and is ready to take the lives of engineers working on the project. Recently, he along with his associate Kulwant Singh, hoisted saffron flag (with Insignia) on a water tank and office of a Tehsil in Raikot," the DCP said.
The officer said Bhupinder has confessed having relations with all factions of Khalistan extremists.
Initially, when in Saudi Arabia, he came in contact with BKI's Wadhawa Singh Babbar and was arrested by Punjab Police and slapped with the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) after he got deported to India.
After his release from jail, he came in contact with Dhanna Singh of Khalistan Liberation Front (KLF), who was based in the UK and Jagdish Bhoora of Khalistan Zindabad Force (KZF), based in Belgium, the officer said.
"He disclosed that Jagdish Bhoora had asked him to identify the targets and also assured him that weapons will be provided to him. Bhoora gave him the contact of a person who was to deliver him weapons in Delhi. Payment for the arms was also made by Bhoora," he said.
Investigation revealed that Kulwant Singh had met Bhupinder Singh about five-six years ago in Raikot and they had become friends.
When Bhupinder went to Saudi Arabia, they remained in contact through phone and social media. When Bhupinder came out from jail, he met Kulwant and the duo discussed plans to eliminate people who made derogatory remarks against Sikhs, the DCP said.
Later, Kulwant joined Bhupinder.
When his feeling for the Khalistan movement became stronger, he also got in touch with Khalistan supporters in Pakistan.
He joined 'Pakistan Zindabad Khalistan Zindabad' group on Facebook which is being operated by one Pervez Akhtar from Pakistan, the officer said.
He is in contact with certain people in Pakistan on Whatsapp, whose identity and linkage with ISI is being verified, he said.
Efforts are being made to identify other members of their network, including those based across the border and in foreign countries, police said.