Amritpal Singh arrested after month-long chase
Indian police have arrested Sikh separatist leader Amritpal Singh, head of the Waris Punjab De political group which is calling for an independent Khalistan to be created on the border with Pakistan. Singh was detained early Sunday in a village in Punjab’s Moga district.
The manhunt for the wanted separatist started on April 18, with over 80,000 personnel on the lookout around three weeks after an attack by his followers on a police station in Amritsar – a holy city for the Sikhs in Punjab. The militants then demanded the release of one of Singh’s aides, Lovepreet Toofan.
Singh was arrested from a gurdwara – a Sikh shrine – in Rode village, the hometown of slain Khalistani militant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale. He has been booked under the stringent 1980 National Security Act.
Following his apprehension, Singh was flown to Dibrugarh in Upper Assam and has been placed in a high-security prison which has not reported a single escape in its 170-year history. Nine of his aides are also detained in the prison.
Police sources said Singh had been on the move for over a month and was shuttling between the neighboring states of Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Delhi. He never stayed in one place for more than a few days to avoid capture and often disguised himself by changing his appearance, according to CCTV footage.
The separatist leader’s new wife, Kirandeep Kaur, who is a UK-based non-resident Indian, was arrested on April 20 while trying to board a London-bound flight at Sri Guru Ram Dass International Airport in Amritsar.
Singh is believed to have tried to ensure Kaur’s safe passage from India before himself fleeing the country, and he was also allegedly routing funds to the UK prior to his planned exit. He worked in his family-owned transport business in Dubai between 2012 and 2021 and returned home during the recent and widespread protests against new farm laws in support of their efforts.
Indian authorities claimed that Singh was trained in Georgia by Pakistan’s intelligence unit, the ISI before he returned to India. Singh was allegedly offered money by the ISI to revive militancy in Punjab, whose aftershocks have since been felt in the UK, Canada and Australia.
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Singh made controversial statements in the past few months espousing the Khalistani cause and was allegedly radicalizing unemployed youth in Punjab. The region is home to terrorists who had assassinated former Punjab Chief Minister Beant Singh in 1995.
April 24, 2023 at 07:09PM