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Punjab: Khalistani Amritpal Singh on the run after police launched a massive crackdown on his Waris Punjab De, mobile internet and SMS services suspended

Amritpal Singh is on the run as Punjab Police launches a massive crackdown on his Khalistani group Waris Punjab De, 78 people arrested and many detained

After reports that self-proclaimed radical Sikh preacher Amritpal Singh was detained earlier on Saturday, Punjab Police have said that he is still on the run. The police confirmed a massive crackdown on Waris Punjab De led by Khalistani leader Amritpal Singh.

The police have said that so far 78 persons have been arrested and many others have been detained during the operation. “Several others including Amritpal Singh are on the run & a massive manhunt has been launched to nab them,” Punjab Police said in a press release.

The official spokesperson of Punjab Police said that on Saturday afternoon, several activities of Waris Punjab De were intercepted by the Police at the Shahkot-Malsian Road in Jalandhar district and seven persons were arrested on the spot. Several others including Amritpal Singh are on the run and a massive manhunt has been launched to nab them.

The police informed that nine weapons, including one .315 bore rifle, seven rifles of 12 bore, one revolver and 373 live cartridges of different calibers have been recovered so far during the state-wide operation. The Spokesperson informed that WPD elements are involved in four criminal cases relating to spreading disharmony among classes, attempt to murder, attack on police persons and creating obstructions in the lawful discharge of duties of public servants.

The police also appealed to the citizens to not pay heed to fake news and rumours. “Situation in the state is completely stable. All persons indulging in mischievous activities for disturbing peace and harmony in the state shall be dealt with strictly,” the press release added.

Press Release by Punjab Police

Earlier it was reported that Amritpal Singh was arrested after a high-intensity chase while his associates were nabbed earlier. He was going in a convoy of three vehicles. During this time, the police caught two vehicles near Mehtabpur in Shahkot, but Amritpal Singh managed to escape in the third vehicle.

Several media reports had said that he was detained after a chase at Nakodar and is being taken to Jalandhar. But now it has been confirmed that he is still on the run, while the police teams are searching for him and other members of his organisation.

The move came after the Punjab police launched a crackdown on the separatist leader and his group.

A heavy police force of around 50 vehicles was chasing Amritpal Singh’s convoy since morning. When the convoy reached Mehtabpur, the police surrounded it and detained six of his associates in two vehicles. The police also recovered a huge cache of weapons from Amritpal Singh’s accomplices. However, he escaped from his Mercedes car.

Earlier, supporters of the Waris Punjab De leader shared unverified videos of police pursuing his convoy in Moga district, with the vehicle eventually speeding to Shahkot near Jalandhar. Sources indicate that while en route to Bathinda, the police attempted to intercept Amritpal Singh, who is believed to be a sympathizer of Khalistan, near Mehtabpur village in Jalandhar. 

In the meanwhile, the Punjab government suspended mobile internet and SMS services in the state after the development. In an order issued yesterday, all mobile internet services, SMS services (except banking and mobile recharge), and dongle services provided on mobile networks, except voice calls, have been suspended in Punjab till Sunday, in the wake of a police operation against Amritpal Singh and his aides.

The order issued by the Additional Chief Secretary of the Punjab govt said that as per the state DGP, certain sections of the society are likely to threaten public order by incitement to violence and resort to wide spread violence with an intention to stoke and cause communal tension. The DGP said that such sections may use social media and messaging platforms like Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, Telegram etc and also SMS services to spread inflammatory material and false rumours, to provoke mobilization or mobs of agitators and demonstrators, mobilize their own manpower and resources To their anti-national activities.

“There is a clear potential of threat to public safety, disruption of public utilities, damage to public assets and amenities and disturbance of public law and order in the state of Punjab on account of misuse of mobile internet services, SMS services and other dongle services,” the order stated quoting the DGP.

Therefore, the ban on mobile internet and SMS has been imposed from 12 noon today to 12 noon on 19 March.

Amritpal Singh has a kidnapping case registered against him at the Ajnala police station in Amritsar. It is unclear whether any further cases were filed against him after his supporters forcefully entered the police station on February 24, following the arrest of one of his associates. During the clash, the supporters protested and clashed with the police. The police have not disclosed any information regarding additional charges filed against Singh related to the incident.

Who is Amritpal Singh?

Amritpal is a 30-year-old pro-Khalistan leader who leads an organization named Waris Punjab De. Within six months of his arrival to India and taking over the organization started by late actor-turned-activist Deep Sidhu, he has reached the point where he can mobilize thousands of supporters and direct them to barge into a police station to get his aide released.

He was born in Jallupur Khera, Amritsar, in 1994. In 2012, he moved to Dubai to join his family’s transport business. Amritpal’s LinkedIn page shows he was the operations manager at Sandhu Cargo, and his mail ID was [email protected]. Hel did his Bachelor of Engineering (BE) in Mechanical Engineering from Lord Krishna Polytechnic College, Kapurthala, Punjab, per his LinkedIn page. OpIndia checked and confirmed the existence of the LinkedIn page that can be accessed from here.

Amritpal Singh remained active on social media throughout his time in Dubai and propagated his ideology extensively via his posts. He used a specific ID, sandhuamrit10, on Twitter to spread the propaganda. That Twitter account has now been deleted. After the death of Deep Sidhu, in a social media post, Amritpal Singh was declared heir of Waris Punjab De. However, the family of Deep Sidhu denied any connection to Singh.

In May last year, Deep Sidhu’s relative came out as the chief of “real” Waris Punjab De, but it did not gain the traction Amritpal Singh managed to get. Amritpal Singh came to India in September 2022. He went to Georgia before coming to India, and intelligence agencies hinted at a possible connection to ISI in their reports.

Note: This report has been updated with the latest developments

Ayodhra Ram Mandir special coverage by OpIndia

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OpIndia Staff
OpIndia Staff
Staff reporter at OpIndia

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