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'Bhindranwale 2.0': Amritpal held from village where he was anointed head of 'Waris Punjab De'

Rode, the place chosen for the 'dastarbandi' (turban-tying) event on September 29, 2022, happens to be the ancestral village of slain militant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale

PTI Chandigarh Published 23.04.23, 04:00 PM
'Waris Punjab De' chief Amritpal Singh arrested by Punjab Police from Moga district of Punjab, Sunday, April 23, 2023.

'Waris Punjab De' chief Amritpal Singh arrested by Punjab Police from Moga district of Punjab, Sunday, April 23, 2023. File image

Around seven months ago, a grand ceremony was held in Rode village in Punjab's Moga district to anoint radical preacher Amritpal Singh as the head of "Waris Punjab De", an organisation founded by actor-activist Deep Sidhu who died in a road accident in February last year.

Rode, the place chosen for the "dastarbandi" (turban-tying) event on September 29, 2022, happens to be the ancestral village of slain militant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale.


On Sunday morning, Amritpal Singh, the 29-year-old Khalistan sympathiser, was arrested from the same place more than a month after the Punjab Police launched a crackdown against him following the storming of the Ajnala police station by his supporters to secure the release of an arrested associate.

Police said Amritpal was arrested from Rode and sent to a jail in Assam's Dibrugarh, while countering certain claims, including of the radical preacher that he had surrendered. The claims surfaced in a video purportedly shot inside a Gurdwara in Rode.

"In the court of the almighty, I am not guilty, but I could be guilty in the worldly court," Amritpal is heard saying in the video.

Police said they did not enter the gurdwara to maintain the sanctity of the place, but conveyed the message to Amritpal that he was surrounded and there was no chance of an escape.

Another video of Amritpal surfaced on Sunday, in which he could be seen bowing before a large picture of Bhindranwale.

The radical preacher used to dress up like Bhindranwale, wearing a long white robe and often donning a blue turban and a kirpan, and give fiery speeches. In February, Amritpal and his supporters, some of them brandishing swords and guns, broke through barricades and barged into the Ajnala police station on the outskirts of Amritsar city, and clashed with police for the release of one of his aides.

A few policemen were injured in the clash.

Ever since the Ajnala incident, Amritpal had kept the security agencies on their toes.

He had been on the run since March 18 when a police crackdown was launched against him and the members of his "Waris Punjab De" outfit. The Punjab Police had invoked the stringent National Security Act (NSA) against the Khalistan sympathiser.

Before Amritpal's arrest, police had arrested his key aides Papalpreet Singh and Joga Singh.

Dubai-returned Amritpal earlier worked in his family-owned transport business. He was made the head of the organisation that Sidhu had formed to "protect the rights of Punjab and raise social issues".

Amritpal, who claimed to be a follower of Bhindranwale, hailed from Jallupur Khera village in Amritsar. Like Bhindranwale, he used to move around with armed men. Some of his supporters call him "Bhindranwale 2.0".

Before the police crackdown, Amritpal had been moving across Punjab, after he launched the "Khalsa Vaheer", a traditional form of religious procession that he said was aimed at bringing youngsters closer to Sikhism.

Its other aim was to spread awareness among youngsters against drug abuse, Amritpal had said.

In February, Amritpal tied the knot with UK-based Kirandeep Kaur in a simple ceremony at Jallupur Khera, his native village.

Amritpal had earlier escaped the police dragnet twice -- first on March 18 in Jalandhar district by switching vehicles and then again on March 28 in Hoshiarpur, when he returned to Punjab along with his key associate Papalpreet Singh. Amritpal, who used to travel in high-end Mercedes cars, had switched to an Isuzu pick-up truck, then to a Brezza SUV, before riding pillion on a motorcycle and later, using a motorised cart to escape the police dragnet.

While on the run, two videos and an audio clip of the preacher had surfaced on social media platforms. In one of those clips, he had urged the Akal Takht "jathedar" to convene a "Sarbat Khalsa" to discuss the issues related to Sikhs and asked the members of the community to participate in it in large numbers.

According to an affidavit of Senior Superintendent of Police, Amritsar Rural, Satinder Singh, which was filed in the Punjab and Haryana High Court here in March, Amritpal was actively "abetting, provoking, motivating, conspiring" to wage war against the State for a separate nation by the name of "Khalistan" and "acting in a manner prejudicial to the security of the State and maintenance of public order".

Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by The Telegraph Online staff and has been published from a syndicated feed.

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