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Last Updated: Wednesday, 8 June, 2005, 11:27 GMT 12:27 UK
Wanted Sikh held over Delhi bombs
Damage to the Liberty cinema in Delhi, India
The cinema blasts occurred within minutes of each other
Indian police say they have arrested a top Sikh militant in connection with recent cinema bomb attacks in Delhi.

Jagtar Singh Hawara and two others were detained in the capital. Police say they also found arms and explosives.

Hawara is accused of killing Punjab chief minister Beant Singh in 1995, and escaped from prison last year.

One person died and 49 were wounded by bombs at two Delhi cinemas on 22 May. The cinemas were showing a film that some Sikhs say denigrates their faith.

'Ready to flee'

Police accuse Jagtar Singh Hawara of leading the outlawed militant Sikh separatist organisation, Babbar Khalsa International.

Jagtar Singh Hawara
Hawara faces trial for killing Punjab's chief minister in 1995

They say the raid in a suburb of the capital on Wednesday also netted another member of the group, Jaspal Singh, who they suspect masterminded the cinema bombings.

"We suspect they were in Delhi to collect some money and flee the country. Some guns and a huge amount of explosives were recovered from them," a police spokesman told Reuters news agency.

The authorities launched a huge manhunt last year after Jagtar Singh Hawara escaped along with two others from the high security Burail prison in Sikh majority Punjab state.

He faced trial for planning the attack on Beant Singh, who was widely credited for his tough stance against separatist militants in Punjab.

Correspondents say Babbar Khalsa was one of the most prominent, and most violent, militant groups in the Sikh separatist movement, which was at its peak in the 1980s.

'Offensive' film

The latest arrests take to eight the number of suspects detained in the cinema blasts case.

Two other suspected Babbar Khalsa members were arrested in connection with the attacks on 31 May in the northern state of Punjab.

The film, Jo Bole So Nihaal (Blessed is the One), is considered offensive by some Sikhs.

It was withdrawn from cinemas across the largely Sikh state of Punjab, as well as from some cinemas in other Indian cities following protests.

A powerful Sikh body, the Shiromani Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC), led calls for it to be withdrawn.


SEE ALSO:
Why Sikh row dogs Bollywood film
23 May 05 |  South Asia
In pictures: Delhi cinema blasts
23 May 05 |  In Pictures
One killed in India cinema blasts
22 May 05 |  South Asia
Theatre ends play in Sikh protest
20 Dec 04 |  West Midlands
Manhunt after Punjab jailbreak
22 Jan 04 |  South Asia


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