Security cameras seem to be “catching” Amritpal Singh every other day, underlining the failure of police who appear unable to get a whiff of the pro-Khalistan preacher 11 days into a manhunt.
At least five video clips — purportedly CCTV footage from public areas in Delhi, Punjab and Haryana — have been circulating on social media, claiming to show Amritpal and key aide Papalpreet Singh walking or sitting on roadsides.
In one video, a man who appears to be holding a can of beverage is described as Amritpal in the caption, which says the place is in Haryana.
In the latest video, circulating since Tuesday, “Amritpal” is without a turban and has a mask covering his mouth and nose as he walks down a street wearing dark glasses. Behind him, a man said to be Papalpreet walks with a bag.
The caption says it’s CCTV footage from an unidentified market in Delhi, and gives the date as March 21.
Punjab police had cracked down on Amritpal and his outfit, Waris Punjab De, on March 18. Amritpal dodged the police in Jalandhar and has since kept them at bay, apparently changing vehicles and his appearance multiple times, officers say.
So far, neither the Punjab police nor the central security agencies have commented on where he might be, although there have been unconfirmed reports about him fleeing to Nepal.
Government sources said that Nepal had on Monday sounded a high alert on the possibility of Amritpal entering the country following a request from India.
Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi took a swipe at national security adviser Ajit Doval, referring to him by a widely used nickname as he tweeted: “If Amritpal has indeed escaped to Nepal, were our intelligence agencies sleeping? What about James Bond?”
He again tweeted: “Our Desi James Bond is different. He is often stirred but never shaken to action.”
A former Delhi police commissioner said it was shocking that Amritpal had been able to lead the Punjab police and central security agencies a merry dance for so long.
“It’s bizarre that he has so far been caught only by CCTV cameras, the footage of which is being leaked to the media by security agencies. It’s such an embarrassment,” he told The Telegraph.
He didn’t explain why the security agencies would anonymously circulate videos that underline their failure.
Over 100 of Amritpal’s supporters have been arrested since the crackdown began. Some of the charges relate to kidnapping, rioting and terrorism.
On February 23, hundreds of Amritpal’s supporters had stormed Ajnala police station, located on Amritsar’s outskirts and close to the Pakistan border, and forced officers to release a comrade arrested on kidnapping charges.