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‘Intelligence failure’: High Court raps Punjab govt over Amritpal Singh’s ‘escape’

The Punjab and Haryana court was hearing the habeas corpus petition filed by the legal advisor of ‘Waris Punjab De’, requesting the court to direct the respondents to produce Amritpal Singh before it.

Amritpal Singh
Amritpal Singh, a radical Sikh leader, leaves the holy Sikh shrine of the Golden Temple along with his supporters, in Amritsar, India, March 3, 2023. (REUTERS Photo)

The Punjab and Haryana High Court on Tuesday came down hard on the Bhagwant Mann-led Aam Aadmi Party government in Punjab, questioning the failure of the Punjab police in arresting fugitive radical preacher Amritpal Singh. According to the police, the pro-Khalistan religious leader, who heads the organisation ‘Waris Punjab De’, managed to give them a slip after a 25-km-long chase. The search for Amritpal entered its fourth day today.

“You have 80,000 police, how has not he been arrested?” the bench asked Punjab Advocate General Vinod Ghai, who was representing the state government. The AG apprised the court that all accused except the Waris Punjab De chief have been arrested.

The observations came Tuesday when a bench of Justice NS Shekhawat was hearing a habeas corpus petition filed by the legal advisor of ‘Waris Punjab De’, requesting the court to direct the respondents to produce Amritpal Singh before it.

“How did he (Amritpal Singh) escape?” the bench asked AG Ghai, further questioning the state how everyone, except Amritpal Singh, has been arrested.

“You have 80,000 police. How has he not been arrested? If he escaped, this is an intelligence failure. The entire police force is after him,” the bench noted.

The High COurt also appointed Advocate Tanu Bedi as Amicus Curiae in the case and adjourned the hearing for four days. The court also sought a status report from Punjab.

“Amritpal Singh is absconding from the law. Raids have been conducted to apprehend and detain Amritpal Singh but he could not be detained so far and is absconding and concealing himself so the order cannot be executed to arrest and detain Amritpal Singh as per the orders of District Magistrate Amritsar issued under section 3(2) of the National Security Act, 1980. In this regard District Magistrate Amritsar has sent a report vide number Reader/DM/1/696 dated 20.03.2023 to the Judicial Magistrate first Class Baba Bakala, Amritsar, Punjab under section 7 (1) (a) of the said act”, said Kuldeep Chahal, Commissioner, Jalandhar, in his reply, according to The Indian Express.

Meanwhile, Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann on Tuesday maintained that “Punjab was in safe hands” and “those trying to spread hate have all been arrested” while assuring the people that those indulging in violence will not be spared.

So far, the Punjab Police have arrested his uncle Harjit Singh and several aides who have all been flown to Dibrugarh in Assam Tuesday morning. His uncle and aides have been charged under the National Security Act (NSA), which allows the police to detain suspects in any prison across the country. On Tuesday, the AAP government extended the suspension of mobile internet services in select districts and areas in the state until Thursday afternoon.

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First published on: 21-03-2023 at 14:35 IST