CHANDIGARH: The Punjab Police on Saturday said it has foiled a conspiracy by Pakistan's intelligence agency ISI to disturb peace in the state ahead of Independence Day with the arrest of five operatives of the Khalistan Liberation Force (KLF).

The arrests were made following a two-week operation, it said.

Director General of Police (DGP) Gaurav Yadav said inputs were received that some terrorist elements based abroad have formed a terror module by recruiting foot soldiers through criminals lodged in jails and are hatching a conspiracy to target minority leaders, police officials and other prominent people to disturb peace and harmony in the state.

Based on these inputs, the State Special Operating Cell (SSOC) of SAS Nagar registered a case and started a special operation, he said.

"Around a two-week-long operation, which involved meticulous intelligence gathering, technical analysis and swift action, led to the apprehension of five operatives of this terrorist module involved in the nefarious plot," Yadav said in a statement.

This new module has links with the same foreign-based handlers who had targeted Shiv Sena (Samajwadi) leader Rajeev Mahajan in Batala on June 24. They were controlling this separate module through these operatives to carry out different targeted killings in the state, he said. Investigations also revealed that the KLF operatives were "talent spotting" in India and recruiting foot soldiers through criminals lodged in jails, the DGP said. They use fake narratives to influence impressionable youths on social media and transfer money into their bank accounts to motivate them to carry out targeted killings in Punjab, he added.

Yadav said the Punjab Police is fully committed to maintaining peace and communal harmony in the state and the nefarious designs of anti-national elements will not be allowed to succeed.

Assistant Inspector General, SSOC, Ashwani Kapur said it was discovered that foreign-based handlers of the KLF had provided a list of targets to the module members, who had already conducted recce of some of the targets.