Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Police invoke NSA against five Amritpal Singh associates

Preacher’s uncle, driver arrested

The Punjab Police on Monday flagged a possible “ISI angle” as it invoked the stringent National Security Act against five men linked to radical preacher Amritpal Singh, whose uncle and driver surrendered amid a state-wide crackdown against his “Waris Punjab De” group.
The Khalistan sympathiser’s uncle Harjit Singh and driver Harpreet Singh gave themselves up before police past Sunday midnight.
Harjit Singh, who officials say helped his nephew gain control over the accounts of “Waris Punjab De”, is among the five slapped with the NSA, which allows the preventive detention of anyone who could threaten national security or public order.
Harjit Singh will be shifted to the central jail in Assam’s Dibrugarh, where the other four were brought on Sunday. They are Daljit Singh Kalsi, Bhagwant Singh, Gurmeet Singh and ‘Pradhanmantri’ Bajeka.
Punjab Inspector General of Police (Headquarters) Sukhchain Singh Gill told reporters here that specialised units are involved in the efforts to nab the preacher – who gave police the slip during a car chase in Jalandhar district on Saturday.
Gill indicated that the preacher, who heads Waris Punjab De, could also be detained under the NSA.
“It can be invoked against him once he is arrested, and the rest of the facts will be made clear to you,” he said, replying to a question at the press conference.
The IG said police have a strong suspicion of an “ISI angle” and foreign funding against those arrested in this case, and further investigations are underway.
The Punjab Police operation began Saturday, weeks after Amritpal Singh and his supporters stormed the Ajnala police station near Amritsar to secure the release of an arrested associate.
The episode had raised fears over the possibility of the return of Khalistani militancy to the border state.
The Punjab government has again extended the suspension of mobile internet services, this time up to Tuesday noon.
Amritpal Singh’s uncle and the driver surrendered near Bullandpur gurdwara in Jalandhar’s Mehatpur area. Deputy Inspector General of Police (Border Range) Narinder Bhargav was among the officers at the spot.
In a video shot then, Harjit Singh can be seen producing his licensed 32 bore pistol and cash amounting to Rs 1 lakh to 1.25 lakh which he was carrying in a Mercedes.
The car was later seized and the two men taken away by the Amritsar Rural police, officials said.
Three other vehicles have been seized and 114 people arrested so far in Punjab in the action against Waris Punjab De. Nine rifles and 430 cartridges have been recovered, police said.
On the provisions of the NSA, the IG Gill said, “There is a provision under section 5 that to maintain peace and public harmony, anybody can be transferred to another state with its consent. It has been invoked in this matter and is totally legal,” he asserted.
He said police found AKF (Anandpur Khalsa Fauj) inscribed on bullet proof jackets and weapons recovered during the operation. The initials were given to the preacher’s close associates, he added.
The police are checking the source of funds for Waris Punjab De. Gill said the outfit has received foreign funding through hawala in small amounts to bank accounts.
Police are also probing the funding for the seized vehicles as people in whose names they are registered did not have the means to afford them, he said.
Replying to a question on the habeas corpus petition that seeks the preacher’s production in court, the IG said the police will present the facts before the court.
Amritpal Singh is still not in the custody of police, he said. “What we have done in this case is as per the law.”
Police are taking out flag marches in the state and peace committee meetings are being held in all districts. There is complete peace in Punjab, he said.
The official urged people not to believe in rumours and fake news, saying strict action will be taken against those who spread them.


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