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Crackdown on Amritpal Singh continues: Case so far

On March 18, Punjab police began a major crackdown against radical preacher Amritpal Singh and his supporters over charges of spreading communal tension in the state. Here are the latest developments from the case so far

Our Web Desk Published 21.03.23, 04:43 PM
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Pictures: PTI

From driving a truck on Dubai roads to attempting to help Pakistan’s ISI in its bid to revive terrorism in Punjab, Amritpal Singh turned himself quickly from a preacher to a fervent ‘Khalistan’ supporter. Amritpal's dreams became ambitious at every step after his return from Dubai in 2022 and he started dabbling with the affairs of ‘Waris Panjab De’, an organisation formed by actor Deep Sidhu. The actor died in February last year.

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On March 18, Punjab police began a major crackdown against radical preacher Amritpal Singh and his supporters over charges of spreading communal tension in the state. As the operation went underway, the Punjab government suspended internet services in the state to prevent circulation of rumours and possible tension. Officials privy to the development said that six close supporters of Singh had been detained so far while a manhunt to locate the radical preacher was still on.They said the preacher had almost been caught but he managed to give a slip to the approaching police team, which intercepted his cavalcade in Mehatpur village in Jalandhar district.

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Radical preacher has been maintaining close links with Pakistani intelligence agency ISI and some terrorist groups based abroad, official sources said. The radical preacher is believed to be a close associate of UK-based Khalistani terrorist Avtar Singh Khanda. Khanda is believed to behind Amritpal Singh's meteoric rise, sources said.

Khanda is a trusted lieutenant of leader of the banned Babbar Khalsa International Paramjit Singh Pamma, who often holds theoretical training classes for the Sikh youth to radicalise them. The trio have been aiming to destabilise Punjab by ideological indoctrination of the Sikh youth with extremist views, they said. Amritpal Singh also has links with chief of the International Sikh Youth Federation Lakhbir Singh Rode, who is wanted in India in cases of smuggling of arms and explosives, including RDX, conspiracy to attack government leaders in New Delhi and spreading hatred in Punjab.

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The manhunt continued for the second day on March 19. Haryana intensified checking of vehicles along the border with the neighbouring state. At the Shambhu border with Punjab, Ambala police were put on high alert, officials said on Sunday. Additional checkpoints were set up and a large number of police personnel have been deployed there, they said.

Security agencies had raised a red flag after intelligence inputs suggested that pro-Khalistan preacher Amritpal Singh was using drug de-addiction centres and a gurdwara for stockpiling weapons and preparing youths to carry out suicide attacks, officials said. 

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The Jalandhar police commissioner along with the Rapid Action Force personnel took out a flag march in Jalandhar on Sunday. Police had launched a "massive statewide cordon and search operations (CASO)" against elements of the 'Waris Punjab De' (WPD), headed by Amritpal, against whom several criminal cases had been registered.

During the statewide operation, nine weapons, including one .315 bore rifle, seven rifles of 12 bore, one revolver and 373 live cartridges of different caliber have been recovered so far, police said.

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On March 20, Radical preacher Amritpal Singh's uncle and driver surrendered before the police in Jalandhar, while the Khalistan sympathiser was still on the run. Amritpal's uncle Harjit Singh and driver Harpreet Singh surrendered near a gurdwara in the Mehatpur area in Jalandhar late Sunday night, Jalandhar Senior Superintendent of Police (Rural) Swarandeep Singh said.

On March 21, Harjit Singh was brought to Assam by the Punjab Police. 

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A group of pro-Khalistani protesters on March 19 attacked and damaged the Indian Consulate in San Francisco, prompting sharp condemnation from Indian-Americans who demanded immediate action against those responsible for it.

"We are also appalled by the complete law and order failure in both in London as well as in SFO where a few radicalised separatists attacked India's diplomatic missions," Foundation for India and Indian Diaspora Studies (FIIDS) said after pro-Khalistani protesters attacked the Indian Consulate in San Francisco.

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In another incident on March 19, Khalistan supporters took down the Tricolour from the Indian high commission in London. The immediate provocation for the protesters in London appears to have been the police action in Punjab to apprehend self-styled Khalistani separatist Amritpal Singh. Some of the protesters held aloft his posters.

The Punjab government on March 21 extended the suspension of mobile internet and SMS services in Tarn Taran, Ferozepur, Moga, Sangrur and Amritsar's Ajnala sub-division and a few areas in Mohali till March 23 noon.

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On March 21, Punjab government informed the Punjab and Haryana High Court that the stringent National Security Act has been invoked against radical preacher Amritpal Singh, claimed a lawyer. Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann said his government will take strict action against anyone who tries to disturb the state's peace and harmony, days after the police crackdown against radical preacher Amritpal Singh.


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