Following the arrest of six men associated with separatist leader Amritpal Singh on Saturday in Jalandhar following a tense pursuit, the situation in Punjab is tense and internet service has been disrupted in some areas of the state.
A “Waris Punjab De” chief followers posted several videos on social media with the premise that police were pursuing them. The police did not, however, confirm this in any way.
In another video, Amritpal could be seen sitting inside a car, and one of his assistants could be heard indicating that police were pursuing them.
According to reports, Singh was held close to Jalandhar’s Nakodar after the police stopped his cavalcade in the village of Mehatpur.
The extremist leader took control of Waris Punjab De shortly after the organisation’s founder, actor Deep Sidhu, passed away.
Following the arrest of his important assistant Lovepreet Singh a few weeks prior, Singh had organised a sizable demonstration against the Punjab Police. His followers entered the Ajnala Police Station after smashing over barriers.
According to media reports, police officers from seven districts have been pursuing Singh and his companions and have surrounded him in the village of Mehatpur in Jalandhar.
Furthermore using Twitter, the Punjab Police urged people to uphold harmony and peace. “To keep things in order, the Punjab Police is working. Asking people not to panic or disseminate hate speech or false information” they claimed.
In the meantime, Singh was criticised by Congressman Ravneet Singh Bittu, who claimed that Singh “used to preach about taking up guns for Khalistan is presently running away fearing the police.”
“A Sikh never runs away, right? If he had the courage, he would have faced the cops. He is rambunctiously dashing around the streets like a jackal. He has come to kill our children, I used to say earlier as well. He is a product of the (intelligence) services “Bittu stated in a video posted to Twitter.
Chronological events before Amritpal’s arrest
On 24th February, Amritpal Singh reportedly threatened to kill Amit Shah, who is a senior leader of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Home Minister of India. Such threats to politicians are taken very seriously in India, especially when it comes to high-ranking officials like Amit Shah, and can lead to heightened security measures.
On 3rd March, Amit Shah summoned Bhagwant Mann, who is a member of the opposition Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), to Delhi for a meeting. The details of the meeting are not clear, but it appears to have lasted for about 40 minutes.
On 6th March, the central government of India sent 18 teams of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) to Punjab, presumably to enhance security in the state.
On 18th March, Amritpal Singh was reportedly arrested, though the reason for his arrest is not clear from the information given. Overall, these events suggest a tense political situation in Punjab, and it remains to be seen how the situation will develop in the coming weeks and months.
In response to Barinder Singh’s accusation, a case was filed against Singh for kidnapping. Another 30 people have been formally charged in the case. Since his return to India from Dubai last year, Amritpal has publicly supported the cause of Khalistan and previously stated that he did not consider himself an Indian citizen. Amritpal reiterated that merely holding an Indian passport, which he described as a travel document, does not establish Indian citizenship.