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Happy PhD’s mom asks her ‘Robby’ to surrender

December 04, 2018 04:48 AM

courTESY THE TRIBUNE DEC 4

THE TRIBUNE EXCLUSIVE
Happy PhD’s mom asks her ‘Robby’ to surrender
Suspected terror mastermind left home to begin research at GNDU 10 yrs ago, no contact since
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service
Amritsar, December 3

Harmeet Singh, alias Happy PhD, “Pakistan-based head of the Khalistan Liberation Force”, is a name mentioned in connection with nearly every terror case in Punjab. But his septuagenarian mother has this message for him: “Our life stands ruined since you disappeared. The religious studies you pursued advocated communal harmony. If you have committed any sin, you must surrender and seek forgiveness. Else, come clean.”

“I wish he had called me once. I would have prevailed upon him to see reason,” said his mother, recalling her “Robby” while speaking to The Tribune in the family’s first-ever interaction with the media.

Based in Chehharta, Amritsar, Harmeet’s parents — both retired from government service — said they were living with the hope of learning how Robby (his name at home) became the dreaded Happy PhD.
Father Avtar Singh and mother Kushbir Kaur said their heart refused to accept that their soft-spoken and shy son could be responsible for acts of terror and causing death. However, they did realise there must be something amiss as he had not contacted them for 10 years.

“He must be alive and involved in something. If the police had killed him or he had died somewhere else, they would not keep knocking at our doors looking for him,” the father said.


The parents said his latest photos released by the Punjab Police did not match the face they remembered, but if the police claims were right, he should surrender. They hoped Harmeet would get their message through these columns and return.

The name Happy PhD is also a mystery.

“We never called him Happy. His nick name is Robby. And he never completed his PhD. He had qualified for Junior Research Fellow (JRF) in religious studies, and enrolled for PhD in Guru Nanak Dev University,” the father said.

The couple was fearful of being hounded, and requested not to be photographed. “We are troubled by the police and intelligence agencies, due to which have we even changed our house,” he said.

The parents last saw Harmeet on November 6, 2008, when he left home for studying at GNDU. A team from Makhu in Ferozepur district raided their house the same evening, and told them Harmeet had received a cache of weapons and ammunition from Pakistan to eliminate Dera Sacha Sauda head Gurmeet Ram Rahim.

The police dossier on Harmeet says the Makhu police had arrested three of his accomplices that day, but he had managed to escape. Five AK-56 rifles, 11 pistols, 900 cartridges, about Rs 25 lakh fake currency, and 25-kg heroin were said to have been seized from the three: Gursagar Singh, Sukhwinder Singh and Kuldeep Singh.

They allegedly told the police that Harmeet was the main person communicating with Pakistan-based handlers and local smugglers. Gursagar Singh received a sentence of five years, while the other two were acquitted.

A few days after Harmeet’s disappearance, his parents learnt from another raiding police team that he had crossed over to Pakistan.

Why, wonder parents

The ageing couple are unable to see what motivated a scholar to choose such a path. “One of his accomplices was a 1984 riots victim. But Harmeet had no such reason to hate anyone. Moreover, he earned a stipend of Rs 12,000, and we were also receiving salary or pension. There was no desperation for money.”

“He was studious, and did his masters in philosophy with high grades, and then another masters in religious studies from Punjabi University, Patiala,” Avtar Singh said.

“He disappeared a few weeks after his enrolment, but had given no indication of any interest beyond religious studies,” he added.

The couple claimed there was also some misreporting. “During one search, the police found a map depicting the travels of Guru Nanak. However, newspapers reported a ‘map of Khalistan’ had been found.”

The parents have donated all of Harmeet’s books to GNDU, but the hope of seeing him again one day lives.

History-sheeter and ‘pak-based head of KLF’
November 6, 2008: FIR No. 173 at Makhu police station for attempt to murder and carrying deadly weapons
September 6, 2013: FIR No. 108 at Amritsar City police station. Booked under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, 1967, besides conspiracy to carry out terror activities
Named key conspirator in the series of targeted killings of Shiv Sena, RSS and Dera Sacha Sauda representatives
Suspected of being involved in conspiracy to kill Rashtriya Sikh Sangat head Rulda Singh in Patiala in 2009
Intelligence agencies claim he radicalises youth by motivating through social media. Also, he is a master planner of terror activities in Punjab
Harmeet is described as highly influential in Pakistan and pro-Khalistan groups as he is a bridge between Ranjit Singh Neeta’s Khalistan Zindabad Force and Lakhvir Singh Rode’s International Sikh Student Federation. He is in touch with organisers of Sikh Referendum-2020, and also close to pro-Khalistan leader in Pakistan Gopal Singh Chawla

 
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