Khalistani leader Amritpal Singh and his supporters offer prayers at the Golden Temple in Amritsar after his close aide Lovepreet Toofan was released from jail. (Image: PTI/File)
A host of charges are being pressed against Singh for his inciting statements on the issue of Khalistan and the storming of the Ajnala Police station in February by him and hundreds of his aides that left five policemen injured, including a Superintendent of Police
The Punjab Police on Saturday swooped down to act against Khalistani sympathiser Amritpal Singh a day after the G-20 meeting in Amritsar got over and just a day before the ‘barsi’ of late Punjabi singer Sidhu Moosewala is to be held in Mansa.
Singh is at present being chased by a huge posse of policemen after he escaped from a house in Jallupur Khera village in Mehatpur which was cordoned off by the cops. Six of his armed aides have been nabbed by the police.
The Moga police have sealed the border with Jalandhar district and police teams have also been deployed in the villages along Sutlej river in the Moga district. Internet services have also been suspended in some parts of the district.
Earlier this week, News18 had met Singh at his residence in Jullapur Khera near Amritsar and had reported on the possibility of his arrest after the three-day G20 event in Amritsar from March 15-17 ended.
Authorities had expected trouble in Amritsar upon his arrest and wanted the G20 event to end without a hassle. Punjab Police hence launched an operation to arrest Singh and his aides on Saturday. A host of charges are being pressed against Singh for his inciting statements on the issue of Khalistan and the storming of the Ajnala Police station in February by him and hundreds of his aides that left five policemen injured, including a Superintendent of Police.
In perhaps his last interview before his impending arrest, Singh told News18 at his residence earlier this week that he was not afraid of being arrested or even being killed. “I think the current government will think maturely what they will do (against me). I do not fear being arrested or being killed. But what charges are they going to arrest me for?” Singh had asked then. News18 found at least five of Singh’s aides guarding him with rifles and pistols, and some of them are said to have been arrested on Saturday by the Punjab Police.
In the interview, Singh also claimed that Punjab had not moved beyond the Khalistan issue. “I think when there is a genocide, nobody moves ahead. When you talk about sovereignty, there is nothing like moving ahead of it. Our people are still suffering — the youth, elderly and children all speak about Khalistan. It is a reality,” Singh had told News18. He also said media was playing on loop “just eight seconds of violence in Ajnala” and denied disrespecting the Guru Granth Sahib, the holy book of the Sikhs he had carried to the station.
The timing of the action on Singh is also important as famous Punjabi singer Sidhu Moosewala’s ‘barsi’ is being observed in Mansa on Sunday, a key event in Punjab. It is believed that the authorities were wary of further negative sentiment against them as Moosewala’s parents have been voicing their resentment over the main perpetrators of Moosewala’s murder still being at large. Jailed gangster Lawrence Bishnoi has this week given two video interviews from jail to a private TV channel explaining why he had hatched the plot to kill Moosewala last year.
Punjab Police and the Bhagwant Mann government have been under the scanner for inaction in the Amritpal Singh case as no FIR had been lodged even three weeks after the Ajnala police station incident and a series of secessionist statements issued by Singh. Saturday’s action against Singh is expected to address some of the criticism in this regard.
Meanwhile, the Moga police have rounded up two close associates of Amritpal Singh — Gurmeet Singh of Bukanwala village and Bhagwant Singh alias Pardhan Mantri Bajeke, a resident of Bajeke village.
The Barnala police has also detained another aide identified as Basant Singh. Searches for the associates are continuing in Moga, Ferozepur, Taran Taran and Amritsar districts.
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