The Punjab and Haryana High Court today slammed Punjab police and asked them to submit a status report in their operation against Khalistani leader Amritpal Singh.
“You have 80,000 cops. What were they doing? How did Amritpal Singh escape?” the High Court asked Punjab government. The court remarked that this is an intelligence failure of the state’s police.
The court’s remarks come amid the Punjab Police action against the Khalistan leader and members of his outfit ‘Waris Punjab De’.
The Punjab police told the court that they launched a major crackdown against Amritpal Singh on Saturday, and have managed to arrest 120 of his supporters.
The elusive preacher, however, gave them the slip and again escaped their dragnet when his cavalcade was intercepted in Jalandhar district. Amritpal Singh, whom the government describes as a Khalistani-Pakistan agent, was last seen speeding away on a motorcycle on Saturday evening in Jalandhar.
Singh has been active in Punjab for the last few years and is often seen escorted by armed supporters. He claims to be a follower of Khalistani separatist and terrorist Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale and is known as “Bhindranwale 2.0” among his supporters.
Earlier today, Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann said strict action will be taken against those trying to disturb peace and harmony in the state.
“We will not spare any force working against the country. People of this state want peace and progress,” Mann said, adding that no incident of violence has been reported since the operation to arrest the Khalistani leader began.
The crackdown comes a month after Amritpal Singh and his supporters broke into a police station with swords and guns for the release of one of his aides. Six police officials were injured in the clash.
4 arrested for helping Amritpal escape
Punjab Police arrested four people on Tuesday for allegedly helping radical preacher Amritpal Singh escape their net and released seven photographs of the Khalistan sympathiser, including some in which he is not wearing a turban, to seek public help to nab the fugitive.
The preacher managed to give police a slip after changing his vehicle on Saturday when police had launched a crackdown against him and his outfit ‘Waris Punjab De’. He was initially in his Mercedes vehicle but later switched to Brezza SUV during the police action. In a new photo that appeared on social media, Amritpal Singh could be seen riding pillion on a bike wearing a pink turban and black goggles, suggesting that he tried to change his appearance to get away from the eyes of police. A CCTV footage also showed him on the bike. Another CCTV footage of the Jalandhar toll plaza, which appeared on social media on Tuesday, showed Amritpal Singh escaping in the SUV. Addressing the media here, Inspector General of Police (Headquarters) Sukhchain Singh Gill said the four arrested persons helped the fugitive escape in a sports utility vehicle. During their questioning, it came to the fore that Amritpal Singh went to a gurdwara in Nangal Ambian village in Jalandhar, police said. “There he changed his clothes, and wore a shirt and pant, and escaped along with three others on two bikes,” said Gill.
Manpreet Singh alias Manna, a resident of Nava Killa in Shahkot, Gurdeep Singh alias Deepa, a resident of village Bal Nau in Nakodar, Harpreet Singh alias Happy of village Kotla Nodh Singh in Hoshiarpur, and Gurbhej Singh alias Bheja of village Gondara in Faridkot have been apprehended for helping Amritpal Singh during the police chase on Saturday, said Gill.
The SUV has been seized from Manna, he said, adding that a .315 bore rifle, some swords and a walkie-talkie set were found in it.
The IG said that the National Security Act has been invoked against Amritpal Singh and 154 people have been arrested so far as part of the crackdown.
Police have also detained Kulwant Singh Raoke of village Raoke in Moga district and Gurinderpal Singh alias Guri Aujla of Kapurthala under the National Security Act. Altogether, seven people have been detained under the NSA, according to police.
Releasing seven pictures of Amritpal Singh in different looks, police appealed to people to help them in tracing him. He said Punjab Police are getting full cooperation from other states and central agencies in their action.
Later, in a statement, Gill said a lookout circular and a non-bailable warrant has been issued against Amritpal Singh.
He said Amritpal Singh’s uncle Harjit Singh and driver Harpreet Singh have been booked in a separate case for taking shelter for two days at the residence of Manpreet Singh, the sarpanch of Uddowal village in Mehatpur in Jalandhar, at gunpoint. They have been booked under the relevant provisions of the IPC and the Arms Act.
Harjit Singh, who has been shifted to Dibrugarh jail in Assam, and Harpreet Singh had surrendered before police in Jalandhar.
Gill said the situation is completely peaceful in Punjab and Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann has been monitoring the situation and taking regular feedback from police officers.
The IG said a protest by a group of Nihangs in support of Amritpal Singh near gurdwara Shaheedan in Sohana in Mohali has now ended and the road is open for traffic.