Asia World

Sat 18 March 2023:

Chandigarh: Punjab Police has reportedly arrested Pro-Khalistan Sikh hardliner Amritpal Singh Saturday, March 18, along with a dozen of his supporters.

Across Punjab, internet services have been suspended till 12 noon on Sunday, March 19, and police have asked people not to “panic or spread fake news or hate speech.”

While an official statement of Punjab police and Aam Aadmi Party government is awaited, Singh and his supporters are learnt to have been booked in three criminal cases.

There are unconfirmed reports that he may have been slapped with cases under the National Security Act as well.

Singh shot into the limelight last September as the head of the group Waris Pujab De. He has publicly voiced demands for Khalistan, a separate Sikh state.

This February, Amritpal and his supporters, some of them armed with swords and guns, laid siege to a police station in which Lovepreet Singh, his aide, was detained in connection with the alleged kidnapping of Varinder Singh. Despite prohibitory orders being clamped to prevent the congregation, the men clashed with police, injuring several cops.

While many are drawn to Singh, he has also been accused by political parties in Punjab including Bharatiya Janata Party for disturbing the hard earned peace and harmony of Punjab.

With pressure mounting on the Aam Aadmi party government in Punjab, the action on Amritpal was not unexpected.

His arrest from Nakodar near Jalandhar has revealed that the Punjab police conducted a well-planned operation, which involved police of as many as 10-12 districts.

Singh was scheduled to address a programme in Shahkot in Jalandhar district.

As soon as he entered the district in the morning, police are learned to have acted swiftly. He was first apprehended before noon in Mehatpur near Shahkot. While several of his aides were detained there, he managed to escape police action.

A video of one of his aides revealed a long chase between police and Singh. In another video shared on Twitter, Amritpal Singh’s aide claimed that about 100 of Punjab Police officers were following him.

In yet another video, a supporter asked people to assemble in Jalandhar to prevent his arrest.

With internet disruption playing spoilsport, police managed to get a hold of Amritpal near Nakodar. Media reports suggested that police conducted a huge search operation in parts of Jalandhar after he evaded arrest.

The whole area including parts of the national highway was sealed.

Following his arrest, red alert has been sounded across the state even as his supporters held protests in Mohali against his arrest.

Section 144 prohibiting the assembly of five or more persons has been imposed in many districts of Punjab including Sri Muktsar Sahib and Fazilika, border districts of Punjab.

Heavy police deployment has been made in all district headquarters including his home town near Amritsar.

Para-military forces have additionally sealed the village Jallupur khera, Singh’s native village.

The Union government too is learnt to have been in touch with Punjab police for regular updates.

Meanwhile, political reactions have been coming in from all sides.

Congress Member of Parliament Ravneet Singh Bittu took a dig at Singh for evading police arrest, saying that his escape from police showed what kind of person he is.

Congress Punjab president Amarinder Singh Raja Warring congratulated Punjab police for its crackdown.

This is a developing story and details will be added as an when they emerge.

Source: The Wire





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