New Delhi: A recorded video of Amritpal Singh surfaced on Wednesday, March 29, in which he claimed that his arrest was in the “hand of the almighty”, remaining tight-lipped on where he was hiding since the police began a crackdown on him and his supporters on March 18.
First video of Amritpal surface after crackdown operation
— Vivek Gupta (@journoviv) March 29, 2023
In the video, the Waris Punjab De leader said he was in high spirits and that no one could harm him. He said this was a testing time for him but due to the blessings of Guru, he could manage to evade the police cavalcade.
The Khalistan sympathiser then appealed for Sikhs to hold Sarbat Khalsa, a panthic Sikh gathering, during the Baisakhi festival next month to discuss issues related to the community.
He slammed the police action, but was tight-lipped if he would surrender before the police and where he was hiding since the police began the crackdown. He said he was not afraid of being arrested, but added that the police had “no intention” of arresting him or his aides. “If this was so, why were we not arrested from our home, ” he said.
Amritpal said when the police began chasing him on March 18, he thought that their intention was to stop him and his supporters from going to Muktsar, where they were about to launch the second leg of Khalsa Vaheer, a religious procession, which he had used to mobilise people.
He added, “Soon we realised that their intention was malicious. It was due to the guru’s blessing that we managed to evade the huge police chase.”
The action of the Aam Aadmi Party government, he said, was akin to that of the Beant Singh-led Congress in the early 90s, in which hundreds of Sikh were ‘disappeared’ and killed in encounters.
He also referred to statement by the leader (jathedar) of the Akal Takht – the highest temporal seat of Sikh power – issuing an “ultimatum” to the Punjab government to release all Sikhs arrested after the crackdown on Amritpal began.
“There is now a need to take a tough stand. I call upon Jathedar to summon a Sarbat Khalsa, a huge Sikh religious gathering, in coming Baisakhi festival to discuss the important matter of Sikh community so that we Sikhs are not prosecuted time and again,” he said.
While the Punjab police has not reacted to the video so far, there are reports that he may have returned Punjab. While the police had confirmed that he had fled to Haryana after the search operation began, the Indian Embassy in Nepal claimed on March 27 that he was hiding in that country.
From Kathamndu to Hoshiarpur
There are now reports that Amritpal was spotted along with his aides in Hoshiarpur in the Doaba region of Punjab on Tuesday evening. He was ‘chased’ but managed to flee again after abandoning an Innova car near Gurdwara Bhai Chanchal Singh in Marnaian Kalan village in Hoshiarpur-Phagwara road.
After a statement on Tuesday night, there has been no update from the Hoshiarpur. But visuals aired by the media from Marnaian Kalan village showed door-to-door search operation by police and paramilitary forces.
Several newspaper reports also quoted senior police officials sharing intel about Amritpal’s movements in Hoshiarpur district, followed by the issue of a high alert in nearby areas.
Media reports speculated that Amritpal planned to surrender before police at the Golden Temple in Amritsar. This appears highly speculative right now, even as police held a flag march and search operation in the area around the Golden Temple.
Harjeshwar Singh, a history professor at Sri Guru Gobind Singh College, told The Wire that the entire episode has begun to look ridiculous.
“If Amritpal was spotted in Punjab again, how is he easily crossing inter-state and international borders?” he asked.
The latest reports suggest that Amritpal escaped in Hoshiarpur on foot, which would be funny if it the issue was not so serious. “Was there no soul who saw him and did he walk so far that hundreds of policemen and search vehicles failed to nab him,” he said.
“This entire operation, to my mind, appeared a big sham. Either our security agencies – whether state or central – are totally incompetent or there is more than meets the eye,” Harjeshwar added.
Meanwhile, there has been no let down in the government actions to indiscriminately suspend Twitter accounts of Sikhs, in India and abroad. The Twitter account of Punjabi singer Babbu Maan was withheld this morning.
Sometime later, Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Harpreet Singh’s six-day old tweet too was withheld. The tweet had a poster pertaining to a meeting of Sikh representatives he called last Sunday to discuss the situation emerging out of the crackdown on Amritpal Singh.