Fugitive radical Sikh separatist Amritpal Singh’s close aide Pappalpreet Singh was today arrested by the counter-intelligence unit of Punjab police from Punjab’s Hoshiarpur. He has been detained under the stringent National Security Act, police said. The two were constantly together after their dramatic escape from a police dragnet in Jalandhar last month. They had taken different routes to escape after reaching Hoshiarpur.
The arrest was part of a joint operation of the Punjab Police and the special cell of the Delhi police.
Amritpal Singh, who has evaded arrest so far, sought a meeting of the Sikhs later this month, after which the Punjab police cancelled the leaves of all cops in the state till Baisakhi celebrations on April 14. The separatist has asked the chiefs of the top Sikh body, Akal Takht, to convene the “Sarbat Khalsa” gathering in Punjab’s Bathinda on the occasion of Baisakhi. He also asked the jathedars (chiefs of Akal Takht) to take out a religious procession from the Akal Takht in Amritsar to Damdama Sahib in Bathinda ahead of the gathering on Baisakhi.
Security arrangements in Bathinda have been stepped up following an unverified video appeal from the ‘Waris Punjab De’ chief about the Baisakhi gathering.
Akal Takht chief Giani Harpreet Singh has appealed to Amritpal to surrender in front of the police, saying that he will neither be allowed to surrender at Akal Takht nor will the Sikh body negotiate with the cops over this.
Only the Akal Takht chief can decide whether to call such a congregation after consulting with Sikh scholars and intellectuals, top gurdwara body Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) said following Amritpal’s request.
‘Sarbat Khalsa’ congregations were called only on two other occasions – in 2015 and 1986. The last one was held on February 16, 1986.
The fugitive Khalistan leader had recently appeared in a video saying he was not “a fugitive” and will soon “appear in front of the world”. Amritpal said those who think that he ran away or left his friends should “get that thing” out of their minds.
“Soon I will appear in front of the world. I’m not the kind of person who will go abroad and put out videos,” he said.
Amritpal has been on the run since March 18, the day Punjab Police launched a massive manhunt for him.
The crackdown came almost over three weeks after Amritpal’s supporters attacked the Ajnala police station in Amritsar on February 23 demanding the release of one of his close aides, Lovepreet Toofan.