Amritpal Singh on the run: Manhunt continues for ‘Waris Punjab De’ chief; uncle, driver surrender

Suspension of mobile internet and SMS services have been extended till Tuesday noon in view of police crackdown on ‘Waris Punjab De’ chief Amritpal Singh and his aides and subsequent arrests.

Amritpal Singh
"Waris Punjab De" group's leader Amritpal Singh's along with lovepreet Singh Toofaan visits Golden Temple in Amritsar on Friday, February 24, 2023. Express photo by Rana Simranjit Singh.

Radical preacher and ‘Waris Punjab De’ chief Amritpal Singh’s driver and his uncle Harjit Singh, who was travelling with Amritpal on Saturday when the police crackdown began, have surrendered before the police in Jalandhar, as he still remains absconding, reported The Indian Express.

The duo was arrested on the intervening night of March 19 and 20. DIG Jalandhar Range Swapan Sharma said they were arrested from the Shahkot area of the district.

Harjit Singh, a two-time Sarpanch of Jllupur Khera village, had told The Indian Express at 12 AM on Monday night saying that he was not an absconder and that he had called the police.

The state police have so far arrested 112 supporters of Amritpal Singh in the massive crackdown against Amritpal and his Waris Punjab De organisation that began on Saturday. Four of the arrested men were brought to BJP-ruled Assam’s Dibrugarh by a 27-member Punjab Police team accompanying them, PTI reported, citing a police officer from Assam.

The men, now lodged in Dibrugarh Central Jail, were identified as alleged fund raiser Daljit Singh Kalsi, Bhagwant Singh, Gurmeet Singh and ‘Pradhanmantri’ Bajeka.

On Sunday, police conducted flag marches at several places including Ferozepur, Bathinda, Rupnagar, Faridkot, Batala, Fazilka, Hoshiarpur, Gurdaspur, Moga and Jalandhar, and searches across the state in their manhunt for Amritpal, as the state remained on high alert.

The police crackdown comes weeks after Singh and his supporters barged into the Ajnala police station near Amritsar, extracting an assurance that Amritpal Singh’s aide and kidnapping accused Lovepreet Singh would be released. A day later on February 24, Lovepreet walked out of the Amritsar Central Jail after a local court ordered his release on an application by the police.

Inspector General of Police Sukhchain Singh Gill on Sunday said Amritpal Singh is still absconding, and said that the radical preacher was seen escaping at the “naka” laid for him in Mehatpur. Calling it a game of “chor-sipahi” (robbers and cops), Jalandhar Police Commissioner Kuldeep Singh Chahal maintained that there was no lapse on Saturday and asserted that he will soon be arrested.

The police officer said Singh’s vehicle was chased for 20 to 25 kilometres. There were narrow streets and “somehow he managed to escape by changing his vehicle”. Police said they have registered an FIR against Amritpal Singh and his supporters for breaking through a police checkpoint and another related to the recovery of a firearm in the vehicle found in a Jalandhar village.

Meanwhile, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has asked the state government to respond on Tuesday to a habeas corpus petition, claiming that the separatist self-styled preacher is already in illegal police custody and should be released. Justice N S Shekhawat held the hearing at his home-office as the courts were closed.

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First published on: 20-03-2023 at 11:50 IST