CHANDIGARH: More than a month after the state police launched a crackdown against him following the storming of the Ajnala police station by his supporters to secure the release of an arrested associate, radical preacher Amritpal Singh was arrested in Punjab’s Moga district on Sunday.
A senior police official informed that Amritpal Singh has been arrested by the Punjab Police and would be sent to Assam’s Dibrugarh jail.
He is an NSA subject and will be taken to Dibrugarh, the officer said.
The 29-year-old Khalistani sympathiser is understood to have been arrested from Rode village in Moga.
Slain militant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale hailed from Rode village and Amritpal Singh was last year anointed the head of ‘Waris Punjab De’ outfit at an event held in this village.
In a tweet, Punjab Police said Amritpal Singh has been arrested in Moga and urged citizens to maintain peace and harmony.
“Don’t share any fake news, always verify and share,” it said in the tweet.
A few pictures of the radical preacher while being taken into custody surfaced on social media and in these, he could be seen wearing a traditional white robe.
He was learnt to have been taken to Bathinda from where he will be flown to Assam.
In a video that surfaced on social media, Amritpal Singh purportedly addressed a gathering at a gurdwara in Rode village in Moga, and says he was “surrendering”.
“It is the birth place of Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale. This is the place where my ‘dastar bandi’ (turban tying) ceremony was held. We are standing at life’s critical juncture. During the past one month whatever took place, you have seen that all,” he said in the video.
“A month back, ‘excesses’ were unleashed by the government against Sikhs. Had it been only the question of (my) arrest, then perhaps there were many ways of arrest and with which, I would have cooperated,” he could be heard saying in the video.
“In the court of Almighty, I am not guilty but I could be guilty in the worldly court,” he said.
“After one month, I decided that we fought on this land, we will fight on this land and will never leave this land,” he stated.
He further said he will face “false cases”, which have been registered against him by police, in the courts.
“On the same place (Rode where he was anointed), I decided to surrender and this arrest is not an end, it is the beginning,” he said.
In the video, Amritpal Singh is heard saying that the “bunch of lies” created against him will be demolished by the Almighty.
Jasbir Singh Rode, former Jathedar of the Akal Takht, claimed Amritpal surrendered and that he was present when he did so.
He told reporters in Moga that Amritpal addressed a gathering and later came out of the gurdwara to surrender.
Amritpal Singh had been on the run since March 18 when a police crackdown was launched against him and members of his outfit ‘Waris Punjab De’. The Punjab Police had invoked the stringent National Security Act (NSA) against the Khalistan sympathizer.
Several cases have been lodged against the radical preacher and his associates for allegedly spreading disharmony, attempt to murder, attack on police personnel and obstructing the lawful discharge of duty by public servants.
In February, Amritpal Singh and his supporters, some of them brandishing swords and guns, broke through barricades and barged into the Ajnala Police Station on the outskirts of Amritsar city, and clashed with police for the release of one of his aides. His wife Kirandeep Kaur was stopped at the Amritsar airport by immigration officials on Thursday while she was trying to board a flight to London. Amritpal Singh tied the knot with UK-based Kaur in February this year.
Amritpal Singh had earlier escaped the police dragnet twice — first on March 18 in Jalandhar district by switching vehicles and then again on March 28 in Hoshiarpur when he returned to Punjab along with his key associate Papalpreet Singh.
Papalpreet, who is considered to be Amritpal’s mentor and who has allegedly been in contact with Pakistan’s ISI, has been arrested.
While on the run, two videos and one audio clip of Amritpal Singh had surfaced on social media. In one of his two videos, which surfaced on March 30, Amritpal Singh had asserted that he was not a fugitive and would soon appear.
The pro-Khalistan preacher had claimed that he was not like those who flee the country.
The Jathedar of Akal Takht, the highest temporal seat of Sikhs, had asked the preacher to surrender before the police and cooperate with the investigation.
Recently, Punjab Police had pasted posters of Amritpal Singh at railway stations in Batala and Amritsar, announcing that an appropriate reward will be given to anyone who provides credible information about his whereabouts.
On April 15, police managed to nab Amritpal Singh’s close aide Joga Singh from Sirhind in Fatehgarh Sahib. According to them, Joga Singh was in direct contact with Amritpal and had even arranged a shelter and vehicles for him in Uttar Pradesh’s Pilibhit.
It was Joga Singh who brought Amritpal and his aide Papalpreet back to Punjab on March 28.
Nine of Amritpal’s aides — Daljit Singh Kalsi, Papalpreet Singh, Kulwant Singh Dhaliwal, Varinder Singh Johal, Gurmeet Singh Bukkanwala, Harjit Singh, Bhagwant Singh, Basant Singh and Gurinderpal Singh Aujla — have been lodged in Dibrugarh jail in Assam and charged under the stringent National Security Act.
Amritpal Singh was last year anointed the head of ‘Waris Punjab De’, the organisation founded by actor and activist Deep Sidhu.