Internet halts in Punjab as police prepare to arrest separatist leader Amripal Singh

The radical separatist leader is often escorted by armed supporters.

New Delhi:

A special unit of the Punjab police, poised to arrest self-proclaimed radical Sikh preacher and Khalistan sympathizer Amripal Singh, today detained six of his accomplices and deployed heavy police force in Moga district . Internet has also been suspended across the state until 12 noon tomorrow. The state government waited until after the G20 event to take action against him, the source said.

Amritpal leads the militant group ‘Waris Punjab De’, founded by actor and activist Deep Sidhu, who died in a traffic accident last February.

Police personnel from seven districts chased Amripal Singh and his accomplices and surrounded him in Shahkot tehsil’s Mehatpur village in Jalandhar, sources said. Police have closed all roads and erected huge roadblocks in Shahkot because they had been informed of Amritpal Singh’s visit in advance.

The radical separatist leader, who has been active in Punjab for several years, is often seen escorted by armed supporters.

On February 23, Amritpal Singh was at the center of massive protests against the arrest of his key aide, the kidnapping accused Lovepreet Singh. He, along with his supporters, attacked the police station and later blamed the Punjab police for the violence. Punjab police have been heavily criticized for their delay in taking action on the incident.

Responding to the police action, Congressman Ravneet Singh Bittu said the “man who used to say he was going to take up arms for Khalistan, ran away today out of fear of the police”.

“Has a Sikh ever run? If he had had the guts, he would have faced the police. He was running up and down the street like a bring (jackal). As I said before, he came to harm our children. He’s from the (intelligence) agencies,” he said.

Armed with swords and guns, Amritpal Singh and his supporters clashed with police in Ajnala, near Amritsar, last month to demand his release one of his assistants. Six police officers, including a superintendent-level officer, were injured in the clashes. Police have yet to say whether an FIR has been filed against Amlipal over the violence.

After the Ajnala incident, the BJP asked the governor to rule the state and the Punjab assembly called for the arrest of Amripal Singh and his supporters for attacking police personnel.

Union minister Anurag Thakur attacked the AAP government in Punjab earlier this month, saying law and order in the state had “collapsed” after “one government” was formed, and suggested it “wake up” and do something about it .

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